President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to stop joint maritime patrols in the West Philippine (South China) Sea even after an arbitral tribunal had favoured the legal claim of the territory to the country.

Duterte: Stop joint patrols in West Phil Sea
Photo by Rappler
"We will not join any expedition or patrolling. I will not allow it because I do not want my country to be involved in a hostile act,” Duterte said on Tuesday.

Duterte wants to remove joint patrols in waters that an arbitral tribunal that a permanent court of arbitration in The Hague in Netherlands had declared as belonging to the Philippines.

The joint patrol is with American forces. These were launched in the waters in April of this year, months after the Supreme Court upheld the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) activities between PH and US that had angered China.

“Even if it’s really owned by us, which the judgment says it’s ours; entitlements, China would say. That's beside my point. The point is, I do not want to ride gung-ho style there with China or with America. I just want to patrol our territorial waters,” said Duterte.

The president would only allow patrols within territorial waters or the 12 nautical miles of sea emanating from Philippine coastlines that are considered sovereign territory under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He says the parts of the waters won from the ruling belong to the country’s economic zone and not territorial waters.

“‘Yung pinanalo natin but it is not part of our territory, it is a part of our exclusive economic zone – ‘yung mga isda, ‘yung mga makita mo diyan, pati ‘yung sa baba, ‘yung oil and gas. But the territory is limited to the 12-mile limit. Hanggang diyan lang tayo.We do not want to go to any patrol,” he said. MJM

Source: Rappler

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