Palace says bringing sea row with China before UN General Assembly an option
The Philippine government might bring up its territorial dispute with China before the United Nations General Assembly, a Palace official said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this could be one of the options as suggested also by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario that the government could take if nothing happened in the bilateral mechanism between the two countries and protests lodged by Manila against the Chinese activities in the South China Sea, including the presence of Chinese militias near Pag-asa Island, a community in Palawan.
"So the next step, if nothing happens perhaps, we are member of the United Nations, right? And there are cases where certain issue that happens in a particular country that affects humanity are raised in the General Assembly, then the General Assembly makes a unified action. So, that could be," he said in a press briefing.
Pressed if the government would do it, he said it would be up to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Del Rosario, in an interview by ANC, said the Philippines has the option to bring before the UN the arbitral award for implementation.
Del Rosario was then foreign affairs chief when the government filed a petition before the UN Arbitral Tribunal questioning China's historic and sovereign claim in almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines shortly after Duterte assumed office in 2016
But Duterte decided to put the ruling at the back burner and took a friendly stance with China in exchange of increased trade and loans.
Meanwhile, Panelo clarified his statement on Monday regarding the diplomatic protest that Manila supposedly lodged with Chinese Embassy due to the presence of Chinese vessels loaded with militias near Pag-asa Island off Palawan.
As of Monday night during the Cabinet meeting, he said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. told him the note verbale "was on the way."
Panelo said as per information from military's Western Command, those in the Chinese vessels were militiamen.
"The (Philippine) military command says, from their point of view, its militia men. Who am I going to believe? Of course, the military," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS