By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday the Philippines can still defend its territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea even without the help of the 2016 arbitral victory received from the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“What Presidente [Rodrigo] Duterte said last night regarding the PCA ruling is correct,” Lorenzana said in a statement, echoing Duterte’s statement that the ruling was a “piece of paper” that can be thrown out in a trash bin.

According to Lorenzana, there is no international body that can implement the arbitral ruling.

He added that Duterte remained “firm and straightforward” in ordering to defend the country without any means of armed conflict with China.

However, the ruling is commonly used by the government’s diplomats in pronouncing their sides against China amid the rising tension in disputed waters.

“While we acknowledge that China’s military capability is more advanced than ours, this does not deter us from defending our national interest, and our dignity as a people, with all that we have,” Lorenzana said.

“The government will not waver in its position. There will be no retreat,” he added.

It was in July 2016 when the Hague-based tribunal favored the Philippines’ case against China’s nine-dash claim sovereignty in the South China Sea.

The decision also concluded that the Spratly Islands, Panganiban Reef, Ayungin Shoal, and the Recto Bank are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

However, China rejected the ruling by saying the territorial issue is “indisputable.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Philippine Daily Inquirer