MANILA, Mar 30 (Mabuhay) — Presidential candidate Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao on Tuesday reiterated his position to back the 2016 ruling of the international tribunal in favor of the Philippines on large portions of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) being claimed by China under its “nine-dash” claim along with other neighboring countries.

In a chance interview with newsmen during a campaign stop in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City, Pacquiao said if he becomes chief executive he plans to convene a special panel of experts to undertake a “peaceful and dignified resolution of the West Philippine Sea dispute”.

Pacquiao said the position of the Chinese claiming Panatag Shoal should be exhaustively discussed by experts tapped by the Philippine government. He said he remains hopeful that a peaceful resolution over the territorial claims will be arrived at by the Philippines and China.

“Iyan ang pag-uusapan natin ng matindi kaya sinasabi ko bubuo tayo ng peace panel para mag-focus diyan (That should be discussed thoroughly, that is why we should form a peace panel to focus on it),” said Pacquiao.

In the 2016 ruling, the international tribunal in The Hague favored the Philippines in its bid to invalidate China’s nine-dash claim over vast areas in the WPS. The Philippines has formally protested intrusions into the area even as China’s Foreign Ministry declared that Panatag Shoal, a traditional fishing ground of Filipinos, is their “inherent territory”.(MNS)

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