‘Phl must assert territorial rights with firmness’

Malacañang said yesterday that it is committed to a multilateral approach to resolving claims in the Spratly island group but maintained the Philippines’ right to assert sovereignty over its territorial waters in the face of China’s declaration that it owns the whole South China Sea.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also said the Philippines will continue to conduct oil explorations in western Palawan, which is not among the disputed territories in the South China Sea.

“The foundation for a lasting resolution of issues is the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The government of the People’s Republic of China has publicly committed to a peaceful resolution of claims, and that it shares the desire of countries like the Philippines for stability in our region,” Lacierda said.

“The Philippines believes that its territorial rights must be asserted with firmness, its position reiterated at every appropriate opportunity, and in a manner befitting a free, sovereign nation that is committed to being a reliable member of the community of nations and the international covenants that govern maritime law, and the settlement of disputes,” he added.

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