Galvez urges foreign military execs, diplomats to back 2016 The Hague ruling vs. China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 6) — The Philippines' defense chief urged foreign military officials to express support for the 2016 Hague tribunal ruling that rejected China’s claims to nearly the entire South China Sea.

The Department of National Defense, in a statement over the weekend, said DND officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. made the call at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) held on June 2 to 4 in Singapore, where he also stressed that international law serves as the “greatest equalizer among states.”

The three-day event gathered defense ministers, senior military officials, diplomats, and security experts across the world. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivering the keynote speech while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Shangfu were among officials at the dialogue that discussed "Building a Stable and Balanced Asia-Pacific."

“[Galvez] encouraged all parties who subscribe to the rule-of-law to express support for the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration Award and what it stands for as it is ultimately this support that will preserve the global order at sea and uphold the universally recognized principles of international law,” the DND said.

READ: Remembering the 2016 Hague ruling: What has happened since then?

The government, under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, secured a win against China after an international arbitral tribunal in The Hague rejected Beijing's sweeping "historic rights" claims to nearly the whole South China Sea. The tribunal largely ruled in favor of the Philippines’ sovereign rights in areas of its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf that are being claimed by China.

Beijing, however, continues to reject the ruling, with the Philippines and other states experiencing harassment in the contested waterways.

READ: China accuses US of ‘provocation’ after near collision of warships

Galvez also called for a continued push for multilateralism in the defense space, which the DND believes could trigger “a strong message that the Philippines is not alone in shedding light on the situation in the South China Sea.”

The official said the Philippines maintains its commitment to holding dialogues with other nations to “build the aggregated resilience of the region as a whole.”

On June 3, at the sidelines of the dialogue, an inaugural defense ministerial meeting was held among the US, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines, Japan's Ministry of Defense said. The ministers discussed expanding cooperation to ensure "a free and open Indo-Pacific" amid China’s increasingly aggressive presence in the South China Sea.