Locsin won’t raise arbitral ruling in UN assembly: ‘We won it already, why relitigate?’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin, Jr. rejected his predecessor’s proposal to raise the South China Sea arbitral ruling before the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

“We won it already. Now why would you want to relitigate something that you won? It’s like, you don’t like you won? That doesn’t make any sense. So I rejected it,” Locsin said in an online media briefing on Wednesday.

“You bring it back to the United Nations and it becomes a question of numbers. And this has nothing to do with numbers. This has something to do with law,” he added.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario earlier called on the Duterte government to bring the arbitration ruling up during the UNGA in September, amid China’s continued rejection of the landmark decision and its incursions in areas Manila occupies or claims as the West Philippine Sea.

READ: China refuses the Philippines’ plea to honor South China Sea ruling

Del Rosario, whose same suggestion was rejected by Locsin earlier, stressed that the next UNGA session would be an “opportune moment” since it will focus on multilateralism.

Locsin said there’s no need to argue over the 2016 ruling, which was a victory for the Philippines. An international tribunal in The Hague favored the Philippines’ case against China and invalidated the East Asian giant’s sweeping claims to almost the entire South China Sea.

“Sometimes, people will say, ‘Why does China say no, we don’t recognize it’… Hey, it’s a free world. You want me to be angry at China because they express their opinion?,” Locsin said.

“The point is, we won it… We know we have the law on our side. We have The Hague on our side,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for nurturing friendship with China and agreeing to set aside the country's arbitration win.

Filipino and Chinese officials recently issued clashing statements on the dispute, but Locsin and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi affirmed that the two countries will continue to manage issues "in friendly consultation."