South China Sea — Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario: After the Decision of the Arbitration Favors The Philippines, Then We Can Start Bilateral Talks With China

FILE – In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario greets British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond prior to their bilateral meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. The Philippines’ top diplomat, who was behind a bold government move to challenge the validity of China’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea at an international tribunal, has resigned due to health reasons, officials said Monday, Feb. 8. President Benigno Aquino III has accepted del Rosario’s resignation, which will take effect on March 7, presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Friday suggested that the Philippines should initiate bilateral talks with China if the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands will rule in its favor.

“A bilateral approach is good. I think the timing is what is essential here. When the conclusion of the arbitration is headed down and if it is in our favor I think we should initiate a bilateral (talk),” Del Rosario said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.

Del Rosario noted that the decision of the international tribunal would provide the Philippines a platform to approach the negotiating table.

The international tribunal is expected to release its decision on Manila’s arbitration case against Beijing before May.

“The situation in the South China Sea is exacerbating and we need the clarification of maritime entitlements that the decision would bring,” Del Rosario said.

The Foreign Affairs chief expressed his confidence that the court will rule in favor of the Philippines.

“I’m confident that we will win our case and I have great trust and faith in (the) wisdom and independence of the judges and so we await the decision which we hope will be early before May,” the Foreign Affairs secretary said.

He added that the next president is expected to embrace the Department of Foreign Affairs’ stand on the West Philippine Sea.

Del Rosario is stepping down as Foreign Affairs secretary on March 7 due to health reasons.


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