(MNS Photo)

MANILA, Sept 1 (Mabuhay) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said the Philippines has not surrendered a single inch of territory amid the country’s longstanding dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Locsin made the statement during the House appropriations committee’s deliberation on the proposed 2022 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“We have not surrendered a single inch of territory. Not by word or deed have we weakened our right to everything in the West Philippine Sea. And without inviting pity by asking, we achieved an international consensus that the right is with us and might cannot ever take it away,” Locsin said.

He stressed the need to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 arbitral award.

He also cited that the Philippines takes pride in the gains achieved in the negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea, stressing that an effective and substantive COC remains a goal.

On July 12, 2016, the Philippines won its petition against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, after the court invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line map which covers nearly the entire South China Sea.

China has repeatedly ignored the 2016 PCA ruling, while the Philippines has sought to resolve the sea dispute through a diplomatic approach.

“As no one thought possible, we have pursued an independent foreign policy for the first time in the history of the Republic and done well by it, earning a heightened respect from the community of nation. If we had been a tail, we are now wagging the dog,” Locsin said.

The DFA proposed a budget of PHP21.051 billion for next year, which is 5.43 percent less than this year’s budget of PHP22.26 billion.

This is a mere 0.42 percent of the proposed PHP5.024 trillion national budget for 2022. (MNS)

READ NEXT: PH travel ban on India, 9 other states extended until Sept. 5