Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the possibility of bilateral talks between the Philippines (PH) and China were unlikely to start anytime soon due to the latter’s rejection of the ruling by United Nations (UN)-backed tribunal over their maritime dispute on the South China Sea.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled last week there was no legal basis for China’s claims to most of the strategic, resource-rich waters and added that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights to exploit resources in waters up to 340 kilometers beyond its coast or its exclusive economic zone. Beijing justified its extensive claims by saying it was the first to have discovered, named and exploited the sea. China seized the fish-rich Scarborough Shoal, which lies about 230 kilometers from the Philippine coast in 2012 after a brief stand-off with the Philippine navy. Manila lodged suit at the tribunal the following year. President Duterte had earlier disclosed his plan to send former President Fidel Ramos to China as special envoy to help start talks over the long-running dispute. The President’s first and foremost priority is to regain access to the Scarborough Shoal for Filipino fishermen, Yasay said.