|President Rodrigo Roa Duterte thanks Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his help with PH's problem on sea claims. (Photo from Inquirer)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte thanked the Australian government for its manifestation before the United Nations affirming the Arbitral Award on the South China Sea territorial dispute.
In a statement Monday, Malacañang said Duterte and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had an “open and productive” telephone conversation over a variety of issues including maritime security. The Palace said Duterte “welcomed Australia’s interest to enhance cooperation with ASEAN on maritime security, countering marine plastic debris, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity.” The President also “thanked the Government of Australia for its formal manifestation before the United Nations affirming the Arbitral Award on the South China Sea issue.” “We consider Australia a close partner in upholding international law, including UNCLOS, and in promoting maritime security,”
Duterte was quoted as saying in the Palace press statement. In a letter to the United Nations in July, the Australian Government said China’s claims in the disputed waters were “without legal basis.” Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, including parts of Philippine territory. But a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) invalidated China’s ambitious nine-dash line feature that virtually owns the entire body of water. Duterte likewise took the opportunity to thank Morrison for Australia’s assistance for the victims of typhoons Rolly and Ulysses and for the country’s COVID19 response.