THE presidential palace yesterday dismissed a Supreme Court magistrate’s claim that China will have reclaimed the Scarborough Shoal by the time President Rodrigo R. Duterte finishes his term.
Presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo told a press briefing, said Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio was “very fond of engaging in speculations.”
Mr. Carpio earlier said Beijing would attempt to reclaim the disputed shoal before the signing of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea before Mr. Duterte’s term expires in 2020.
“As the president said, he will not allow during his incumbency any assault on our sovereignty,” Mr. Panelo said.
He said the 2016 United Nations arbitration ruling that voided China’s claims to more than 80% of the South China Sea “is final, binding and not subject to appeal.”
“Anything that will go against the arbitral ruling would be of course objectionable for us,” he said. “We are against any intrusion into the sovereign affairs of the land.”
Mr. Panelo said the Philippines “can always try” to stop China if it attempts to reclaim the shoal. “We will have to file a diplomatic protest.”
The Supreme Court has rejected a plea from fishermen and a lawyer’s group to force Mr. Duterte’s government to protect three disputed shoals in the South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the fishermen in April asked the court to compel the government to protect the Scarborough Shoal, Second Thomas Shoal and Mischief Reef. — Arjay L. Balinbin