By: Elena Grace Flores
Philippine’s new President Rodrigo Duterte’s soft-talking with China and giving them false hopes that he is ready to open talks on joint maritime exploration may not work to the Filipinos’ favor because it will be protested by the rest of the claimants of the South China Sea.
On the other hand, China’s President Xi cannot back down anymore also as he has fanned national sentiment over its defense on their territorial claims. He has bolstered Communist Party ruling and strengthened his Chinese military authority.
Paul S. Reichler, the Washington lawyer retained by the Philippines as chief counsel in the case, said that if China refused to accept the tribunal’s ruling, other countries would line up against it – and Duterte will have no say on the issue anymore. China would then be forced to either cooperate or pursue being the culprit versus all the neigboring countries in the area.