(Eagle News)– Malacañang on Monday (May 22) reiterated that the country would not give up its right in a disputed part of the West Philippine Sea following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s reported war threat against the Philippines if the latter pushes the arbitration ruling and drill for oil.
“We are very clear that we are not giving up our claim of sovereignty and sovereign rights over certain islands in the South China Sea, at the same time, these matters are pursued in the context of maintaining peace and prosperity in the region,” palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
Abella added Duterte’s “first and last priority is the national interest and the well-being of the Filipino.”
Duterte earlier revealed that he had discussed with Xi the Philippines’ right over the territories and got a friendly warning.
“His response to me, ‘We’re friends. We don’t want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain the presence of warm relationship. But if you force the issue, we’ll go to war,” Duterte told in a speech after his arrival from Beijing.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its 200-mile exclusive economic zone to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, 85 nautical miles off its coast. The ruling also invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim on its maps denoting sovereignty over most of the West Philippine Sea.