Panelo tells US think-tank to keep off ITLOS verdict. The Arbitration ruling is a bilateral matter. Filipinos know what to do and when to do it.

US think-tank tenders free advice.

PICS: wikipedia and

PICS: wikipedia and

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo is not a person to speak lightly on any issue. His role as the guardian of the legal aspects pertaining to the President is an unenviable one.

However, he has to be on his toes all the time because his President speaks out of turn quite often. Sometimes, he might be facing dilemmas while trying to come up with a solid enough defense or interpretation.

Consequently, it was this responsibility that made him lash out at a think-tank for speaking out of turn. The Washington think-tank had urged President Duterte to enforce the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea.

They based their thinking on the July 2016 decision of the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Seas (ITLOS). The Tribunal had awarded most of the disputed structures to the Philippines turning down the claims of China.

But, the shrewd politician that Duterte is, he took the diplomatic route and developed friendly relations with China. He spoke out on the state-run dzRB radio asking them to keep away from the affairs of the region. Such advice amounted to interference in the affairs and relationships in the Asia Pacific region, he said.

Moreover, it is our lookout as to whether we wish to exercise our rights as awarded by the International Tribunal. It is also our take as to when we assert our rights, he clarified.

Yesterday, Ernest Bower, Senior advisor of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Southeast Asia chapter issued this advice. Furthermore, he continued that it all depended on what the Filipinos want and when they want it.

The Philippines knocked on the doors of the International Court of Arbitration, the Hague on its own. They did it since the sovereignty of the nation was at stake; it’s President Duterte’s task to take it forward.

In short, he asserted the official position; it was a bilateral matter even though there was an International ruling.
The right to assert and choosing the time to assert were the prerogatives of the Filipino people. President Duterte had earlier explained that now was not the time to squabble with China.

The need of the hour was to rebuild the strained ties with the neighboring giant.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Umrao Singh
Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson
Saturday, 04 March 2017