Set aside WPS issue amid pandemic, says Galvez

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A TOP Malacañang official urged the public to momentarily set aside the territorial dispute with China, until after the pandemic.

Responding to the statement issued by Senator Risa Hontiveros, who asked him if he could assure the public that the government will not give away the country’s maritime entitlements in exchange for Chinese vaccines, Galvez said: “In this pandemic, the global interest of the global commons is really to save humanity. All countries rallied to support each other, so that’s the context that we are looking [at] but every country wanted to help [in] our global pandemic.”

At the Senate hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, Galvez underscored the need to set aside differences with China as the global community races against the pandemic that has so far infected more than half a million Filipinos.

“‘Yung tinatawag nating differences on the West Philippine Sea should be set aside because this is a global pandemic,” he said.

Galvez added that they are not bent on compromising the national interest in the disputed territorial waters, adding that the government’s vaccine selection process is science-based.

He further cited the need for neighboring Asian countries to help each other, including ensuring equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, and “set aside differences” to end the pandemic.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration decided there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within parts of the South China Sea  falling within its so-called “nine-dash line.”

China refuses to recognize the ruling.

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