Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay expressed disappointment with the Duterte administration’s approach towards the maritime dispute with China a year after The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines.
“The first anniversary of the tribunal’s award marks a year of disappointment after disappointment after our victory at The Hague,” said Hilbay.
“The current administration seems to have adopted a policy of defeatism and a mindset of non-enforcement of the award,” he added.
Hilbay was one of the members of the Philippine legal team who defended the country’s legal claim over the West Philippine Sea, a part of the South China Sea that China also claimed to be theirs, at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Hilbay was tasked to introduce the Philippines’ presentation and summarize the country’s 15 arguments against China’s claims over the South China Sea.
Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario urged the Philippines to “reassume leadership” after winning the historic case against China.
“Today, on the anniversary of the ruling, we should be proud of our country’s leadership on this issue. It was a leadership that began from a lonely place but, because we stood for what is right, we also gained the respect of the responsible community of nations,” Del Rosario said in a forum organized by the Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute on July 12.
“I believe that we should reassume our leadership,” he said.
“Even today, countries hope for us to lead from our position of strength. No other nation can support us more than we do ourselves, and there can be no unity over the right course of action unless we initiate this unity,” he added.
Del Rosario also urged the country to ensure that the favorable Hague ruling will be incorporated into the framework Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
“After all, our region cannot promote the rule of law while ignoring the law as it stands,” he said.
Earlier on July 12, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the Duterte administration “reaffirms its unwavering commitment” to protect the West Philippine Sea, but adds that the matter should be “resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighborly relations.”
The DFA hailed how this approach reaped benefits for the country, including investments and financial assistance.
“The Philippine approach has led to great benefits for the country, allowing us considerable economic gains as well as strengthening our status as ASEAN Chair and regional peacemaker,” the DFA said.
“Through the adoption of positive neighborly relations, our fishermen are back exercising their livelihood in Scarborough Shoal. We have received investment and financial assistance commitments upwards of $30 billion from our partners in the region. These significant developments have likewise allowed our defense resources to also address other pressing security concerns facing the country,” it added.
“The Philippines shall remain an enemy to none and a friend to all in its pursuit of economic and political benefits for the country, including the long-term security and stability in the region.”
On July 12, 2016, the Philippines won its historic case against China in The Hague.