No less than former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban has found wisdom in President Rodrigo Duterte’s apparent “restraint” in responding to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) favorable decision on the Philippines’ arbitration case against mighty China in the West Philippine Sea. “China maintains that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the dispute; ergo, it will not follow the decision,” wrote Panganiban in his Inquirer column Sunday, July 17 as he attempted to illustrate the mood in the region. “Instead of using provocative saber-rattling responses, the Duterte administration laudably counseled restraint and chose diplomacy and peaceful negotiation,” the former chief magistrate said. The Unites Nations (UN)-backed PCA handed down its long-awaited decision last July 12 wherein it declared Beijing’s all-encompassing “nine-dash-line claim” in the disputed waters as invalid. But instead of boisterously declaring victory–and it was indeed a big victory for the Philippines–the Duterte administration called on all those concerned “to exercise restraint and sobriety”. Now, the tough-talking Davao City mayor-turned-chief executive wants to hold diplomatic talks with China and has reportedly requested former president Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) to serve as the Philippines’s voice. Panganiban, for his part, cited several instances of international turmoil that was eventually remedied by good old diplomacy. “The United States also used lack of jurisdiction in refusing to honor the June 27, 1986, decision of the International Court of Justice directing it to pay reparations for its support of the Contra rebels against Nicaragua. It even vetoed a call by the UN Security Council and ignored a resolution of the UN General Assembly supporting Nicaragua. In the end, however, the dispute was settled peacefully through diplomacy and negotiation. “Diplomacy and negotiation were also used by Mauritius to convince the United Kingdom to obey an arbitral decision issued on March 18, 2015, regarding the Marine Protected Area around the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean,” Panganiban said. “I believe that, like those two cases involving the United States and the United Kingdom, our dispute with China can be peacefully resolved,” he concluded.
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