PH to consult ASEAN allies over sea dispute ruling – defense chief

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines will consult its allies in the region, following Manila's victory against Beijing over claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). 

In a press conference on Wednesday, July 13, Lorenzana said the Philippines is still studying the implications of the ruling handed down on Tuesday, July 12, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.

In its ruling, the tribunal said there was "no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources" within areas falling under its so-called 9-dash line.

Asked how the ruling would affect the Philippines' defense forces, Lorenzana said he could not yet provide an answer as they are still looking into the implications of the ruling.

He added that the country will also seek the opinions of its Southeast Asian allies, particularly those who are also claimants of the South China Sea. (READ: FAST FACTS: South China Sea dispute)

"The community of ASEAN who supported us in our pleading should also be consulted...We will consult with our ASEAN allies who are also claimants in the area," Lorenzana said.

"It's not only the Philippines that is affected by the ruling," he added.

The defense chief also said that the government's actions "will be guided with what is good for our country."

Lorenzana also echoed the earlier directive of Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr, who called for "restraint and sobriety" in the aftermath of the ruling.

But Lorenzana said China must respect the tribunal's decision, even as Beijing has repeatedly said that it would reject any ruling from the tribunal.

"I hope that China will abide. It will be for the good of the region if everyone abides by [the] rule of law," he said.

A day after the historic ruling, Lorenzana said that the situation in areas near the South China Sea remains at status quo.

The Philippines has not modified its defense setup in the area, he added, although he could not say if the Chinese side was beefing up its forces.

Asked if the Philippine Navy is willing to escort fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, Lorenzana said there is no such directive yet from the President. –