By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte is relying on China’s promise that it won’t claim islands in the disputed portion of the South China Sea, Malacañang said Tuesday.
The statement was issued after it was reported on Friday that China is now testing the Tian Kun Hao, its biggest island-making vessel.
According to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, President Duterte has opted to maintain a good relationship with China and to rely on good faith.
“Well, the President recognizes the principle of good faith in international relations,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing today.
“We need to rely on good faith because otherwise there would be no predictability in international relations,” he added.
According to Roque, the Chinese government assured Duterte that there will be no reclamation activities in the disputed waters.
“We need to rely on good faith because otherwise there would be no predictability in international relations,” he said.
“As I said, he has relied completely on the principle of good faith. Which is, in fact, a fundamental and cardinal principle of international law,” he added.
Roque also said the International Tribunal Court’s decision to grant the Philippines sovereignty over the disputed waters still stands, despite the President’s decision to set it aside for a while.
“We have a decision, the last time I checked. And that decision remains unchanged. It has said that the artificial islands are form part or built in our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” he said.
“Meanwhile, the President has opted to maintain very close and cordial relationship with China. I think, we are seeing new heights in terms of Philippine-Chinese relations and it has resulted in very tangible results particularly economic investments,” he added.
The Department of National Defense (DND) said that it is now closely monitoring the Tian Kun Hao amid suspicions that China’s biggest dredger will be deployed in either the South China Sea or the Pacific Ocean.
“We have reports that they launched their big dredger, but we don’t know where it is going. We are constantly monitoring the movement of this ship,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said.
Xinhua, China’s state-run news outlet, earlier reported that China would abide by the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and “won’t use the dredger to expand its artificial islands.”
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