It is up to President Duterte to decide on the next government action after he raised the country’s arbitral win in the South China Sea dispute in the United Nations, Malacañang said Monday.

KRL5 1024x683 - Next gov’t action on PH arbitral win up to Duterte
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(KARL NORMAN ALONZO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque maintained that the President, who recently earned praises for invoking the court ruling that invalidated China’s claims in the disputed territory, is considered the chief architect of the county’s foreign policy.

Roque made the statement after Vice President Leni Robredo lauded the President for asserting the country’s territorial claims when he addressed the UN General Assembly last week. Robredo, however, expressed hopes the Duterte will stand by what he said before the world body.

“We thank her for the praise but we leave it to the President on how to proceed, henceforth, dahil ang Presidente naman po ang chief architect of foreign policy,” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

Robredo had earlier said she considers the President’s South China Sea statement as her favorite part of his UN speech. She said she has waited for a long time for Duterte to raise the 2016 court ruling which he said is beyond compromise.

Pleased with Duterte’s pronouncement before the UN, Robredo said she hopes the administration will keep its firm commitment to protect the country’s territory. She noted that countries like Indonesia and Vietnam have continued economic ties with China but have never allowed incursion into their territorial waters.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly for the first time last week, Duterte raised the country’s legal victory against China in the dispute over the South China Sea. The President said the arbitral award was now part of international law and that the government would reject any attempt to undermine it.

In 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on the South China Sea dispute in favor of the Philippines, saying the China’s claim of historic rights over the area has no basis in law. China, however, has ignored the court ruling and continued its expansion over the territory.

The Palace earlier said the government has chosen to “move on” with its economic relations with China, believing the territorial dispute cannot be resolved “within our lifetime.” Roque said government would set aside the contentious issue and instead pursue other areas of cooperation with China, such trade and investments, for the meantime.

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