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Carpio: China may be slowing down but aim to ‘grab’ PHL’s EEZ still there

China could be "slowing down" in trying to get control of the South China Sea but this is only temporary, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned on Thursday.

"The intention of China is very clear. They want to control the West Philippine Sea. We should always bear that in mind that their intention from the very start is to grab our EEZ (exclusive economic zone). They may slow down for a while but they will continue to march towards that..." Carpio said during a forum in Makati City.

"We have to take a long view. They may be hiccups here but those are temporary. China is still after our EEZ," Carpio added.

Carpio, who was part of the legal team that argued the Philippines' arbitration case before the tribunal court at the Hague, reiterated that the government should assert its territorial rights in the region.

"We should not slacken... we should continue to push because there are many avenues. We should protest, file cases," he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in his keynote address during the event, admitted that "the most critical external security challenge for the Philippines is the competing territorial claims in the South China Sea."

Lorenzana said the Duterte administration has been asserting the Philippines' territorial rights in the region.

"Our President has pursued a calibrated, comprehensive approach in engaging China. The goal is to pursue functional cooperation with China and with other claimant countries," Lorenzana said.

"I would like to emphasize that the Philippines continues to view the arbitral tribunal ruling as valid and legitimate and in many instances, the President has said he’s going to raise that before the Chinese before his term ends," he said.

"We have not, and we will not, surrender any part of our territory," Lorenzana added.

In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated Beijing's claim over most of the resource-rich region.

The Duterte administration, however, set aside the ruling and chose to maintain warm ties with China as it believes that the country can be a partner for the Philippines' economic projects.

Meanwhile, Carpio also reiterated that China's historical claim over the South China Sea was the "fake news of the century." — RSJ/BM, GMA News