PALACE TO CHINA: Spratly Islands is ours

MANILA – The Palace contradicted China in claims over Spratly Islands which the Philippines considered part of the West Philippine Sea and within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the remark on Saturday after China said the contested island is within its territory as supported by “sufficient historical and legal basis.”

The palace official said “while we concur with the Chinese official’s statement that the dispute can be best threshed out through peaceful negotiation between the two countries towards a solid partnership, beneficial to Filipino and Chinese communities, the arbitral ruling, however, has already been rendered.”

He added “we remain steadfast in maintaining our claims with respect to our territory and exclusive economic zones pursuant not only to the said arbitral judgment but consistent with the directives of our Constitution and the aspirations of the Filipino people.”

“It is our principled stand that peace in the West Philippine Sea should be maintained and China should avoid performing acts that will place at risk the Filipinos fishing in the disputed areas,” the palace official stressed. “At the same time, [China should avoid] irritants that will disrupt the current friendly relations of the two countries as well as imperil future bilateral negotiations on matters of mutual concern.”

The Hague, in July 2016, recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which Filipinos call West Philippine Sea.

China, however, refused to recognize the ruling and built artificial islands, prohibited Filipino fishermen from fishing and interfered in petroleum exploration./PN



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