The United States (US) said on Tuesday that it is ready to defend the Philippines if China continues with its encroachment in the West Philippine Sea.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is calling on Beijing to comply with the arbitration ruling, and that the US is obligated to defend its treaty ally, the Philippines, if its forces, vessels or aircraft come under attack in the disputed territory.
The statement was released on the sixth anniversary of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) 2016 decision in The Hague under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) declaring that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
China did not participate in the arbitration proceedings calling it illegal and invalid, and continues with its expansive claims over the disputed territories with other countries with sovereign claims in the area.
Arbitration ruling ‘final’
“The United States reaffirms its July 13, 2020 policy regarding maritime claims in the South China Sea,” Blinken said in a statement published by the US Embassy in Manila.
“We also reaffirm that an attack on the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” Blinken added.
Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, in a statement, said that the ruling is a victory for the Philippines, and that it is “final” and any attempts to undermine it will be “firmly rejected.”
“These findings are no longer within the reach of denial and rebuttal, and are conclusive as they are indisputable. The Award is final. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history and our collective memories,” said Manalo.
Manalo also added that the Philippines is not only the country who is set to benefit from the said ruling, but also other countries around the world.
“We see it as it should be seen: as favoring all which are similarly situated by clarifying definitively a legal situation beyond the reach of arms to change. It puts this aspect of international law beyond the limit of prescription,” said Manalo.
Although the PCA’s ruling is in favor of the Philippines and it is legally binding, the tribunal has no way to enforce its ruling, as it has no enforcement power against sovereign nations that go against its ruling.
Blinken is calling on China to respect international law and to stop its aggressive and provocative behavior in encroaching other countries’ claims over the disputed islands, and that the US “will continue to work with allies and partners, as well as regional institutions like [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations], to protect and preserve the rules-based order.”
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.
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