MANILA—The Italian government expressed support to the Philippines’ legal appeals over the disputed West Philippine Sea filed before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Italian President Sergio Mattrella, in a bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III, extended Italy’s support in peaceful and fact-based solution to the dispute between the country and China.
“Italy affirms PH’s adherence to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) in upholding freedom of navigation and acknowledges that (the) Philippines has taken an appropriate path to peaceful dispute resolution,” Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. was quoted as saying in a Manila Bulletin report.
The Philippines presented its last argument before the arbitration court in The Hague on November 30 where it entrusted its fate to the court. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told the court that if it rule on China’s favor, the latter would convert its nine-dash line imposed on the disputed sea and create a “Berlin Wall of the Sea”, a ““giant fence, owned by, and excluding everyone but, China itself.”
Talks on trade, air services
Pres. Aquino and Prime Minister Renzi also talked about the possibility of increasing trade and investment between the two countries.
The Philippines, who has recently been granted of Generalized System of Preference (GSP) plus status by the European Union, is being considered by Italy as a “possible manufacturing base” for export. The country now has zero tariffs on more than 6, 000 products bound to Europe.
The leaders of two countries also discussed he implementation of the Philippines-Italy Air Services Agreement (ASA).
“Under air services agreement, both parties agreed to increase frequency of passenger and cargo flights,” Coloma said in the same report.
“The new air services agreement will benefit Filipino nationals and their families who work and reside in Italy and Europe by affording them the option to take direct flights back to the Philippines,” he added.