MANILA, Philippines – Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario warned the Duterte government against agreeing to no longer bring up with China the 2016 Hague ruling that asserted the Philippines' rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Del Rosario made the statement Saturday, August 31, following a meeting between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Duterte had made good on his promise to bring up the Hague ruling but Xi once again refused to recognize it. The arbitral ruling struck down China's claim to the West Philippine Sea.
Despite this, Del Rosario reminded the government the arbitral ruling was now "an integral part of international law."
"This should have been the setting between the two presidents in Beijing. For the Philippines to have been asked to agree that it will not bring up the issue again is to effectively accept without equivocation that China is above the rule of law," Del Rosario said.
"This would be so wrong. It would be a betrayal of the trust we have placed in our governance," he added.
With the outcome of the meeting between Duterte and Xi, Del Rosario said the Philippines must urge the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to back the 2016 Hague ruling.
"We need to prepare a strategy for taking our case to the UN. It will take time and hard work, but we must do this for the sake of our many generations to come. We must convince our leadership that we need to strengthen our resolve, and not have it weakened," Del Rosario said.
Similar actions have been taken by other countries in the past. For instance, Nicaragua successfully lobbied for a resolution which called on the United States to abide by a ruling of the International Court of Justice won in favor of Nicaragua in 1986.
Del Rosario had earlier warned the Philippines should adopt a "multilateral approach" to asserting its rights in the marine area "before we get shoved around any further leading us to irreversible consequences."
Del Rosario was the country's foreign secretary when the Philippines decided to file its historic case against China. – Rappler.com