In this photo taken Feb. 25, 2014 by surveillance planes and released Thursday, May 15, 2014, by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef, called Mabini by the Philippines and Chigua by China, at the Spratly Islands at South China Sea, Philippines. The Philippines has protested China's reclamation of land in the disputed reef in the South China Sea that can be used to build an airstrip or an offshore military base in the increasingly volatile region, the country's top diplomat and other officials said Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The white arrow was added by the source. (MNS photo)

In this photo taken Feb. 25, 2014 by surveillance planes and released Thursday, May 15, 2014, by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef, called Mabini by the Philippines and Chigua by China, at the Spratly Islands at South China Sea, Philippines. The Philippines has protested China’s reclamation of land in the disputed reef in the South China Sea that can be used to build an airstrip or an offshore military base in the increasingly volatile region, the country’s top diplomat and other officials said Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The white arrow was added by the source. (MNS photo)

NEW YORK, New York (Mabuhay) – President Benigno S. Aquino III said he expects the international arbitral tribunal to issue a resolution on the country’s claim in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to achieve regional stability and prosperity.

A ruling from the tribunal will create an environment that could bring about prosperity for all and in the region, the President told students and faculty who attended the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday.

“It is difficult to give up sovereignty by any state,” President Aquino said. “That is why we have brought the case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea precisely to determine whose definitions and interpretations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea are correct.”

Perhaps, the Philippines is not totally wrong, or the country is not totally correct and maybe it is the same case with the other side, he said.

“At the end of the day, when there is a clear understanding accepted by all parties, then the tension should be managed better than it is now, where everything is so undefined and subject to so many conflicting claims that are, in a sense, irreconcilable with each other,” he noted.

He however said that although there are conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea, the issue is not the totality of the relations between the Philippines and China.

In fact, the President said, when he visited China in 2011, then Chinese President Hu Jintao also stated that this should not be the basis for the overall relations between the two countries.

This is true until now, he said, adding that in 2011, investments by Philippine companies in China were estimated at $2.5 billion, while investments by Chinese companies in the Philippines amounted to about $600 million.

In terms of tourism, Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines number about 200,000 every year, while Filipinos going to China reach 800,000 tourists annually.

“There is really room for prosperity for both and a natural affinity in a sense for both,” President Aquino said, adding that it is his obligation under the Constitution to defend the country’s rights and sovereignty. (MNS)