The start of something | The Freeman
After repeatedly dismissing and even expressing plans to set aside The Hague arbitral ruling against China’s Nine-Dash line and in support of Philippine sovereignty in some disputed areas in the South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte has finally invoked the ruling before the United Nations.
During his speech before the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, Duterte said the Philippines will not stand for just brushing the ruling aside.
"The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it," Duterte said.
He also welcomed the support for Philippine claims announced by France, the United Kingdom, and Germany recently.
"We welcome the increasing number of states that have come in support of the award and what it stands for — the triumph of reason over rashness, of law over disorder, of amity over ambition. This – as it should - is the majesty of the law," he added during his speech.
Understandably, his words got many people excited, as they see it as Duterte finally setting a clear direction as to his policy regarding China’s illegal intrusions into our territory.
Of course, there will be those who will tell us to rein in our enthusiasm. They will say that Duterte’s statement will remain just that --a mere statement in the face of China’s already-entrenched presence in our territory and also its superior land, naval, and air armaments.
They have a point, but let’s also appreciate this act for what it is; Duterte finally having the gall to say to his “friend” in Beijing that we are not okay with their constant land grabbing.
With this speech Duterte finally makes it clear that we have issues with China’s sweeping claims of the seas between our shores.
Let’s hope Duterte doesn’t stop here, that his expression of opposition to China’s brazen land grabbing goes beyond just mere words and becomes action.
We have said before that we need not go to war with China over the disputed areas. Nobody wants that. There are other ways to assert our sovereignty in areas rightfully ours.
Right now, what he is doing may just indeed be saying mere words, but considering how much he has balked at this particular issue since the beginning of his administration, it’s the start of something and also a step in the right direction.