Duterte talked about South China Sea arbitral ruling with Vietnam leader – Palace

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President Rodrigo Duterte and Socialist Republic of Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Phuc engage in a discussion during the bilateral meeting in Singapore.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) — President Rodrigo Duterte has discussed the international arbitral ruling on the Philippines' dispute with China in the South China Sea with Vietnam's head of state, who was all praises for the way Duterte handled the' maritime row, a Palace official said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed some details about Duterte's bilateral meeting in Singapore with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Friday. Vietnam also has claims in the South China Sea, along with Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Roque said it was Phuc who brought up the July 12, 2016 arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines, but that Duterte's response did not disappoint.

"He made it very clear to a head of state that he recognizes the gains of the arbitral award and that he will refer to the arbitral award in due course," Roque told reporters in Singapore, where Duterte and the Vietnamese leader met on the sidelines of a summit of Southeast Asian leader.

This means the President is not "abandoning, ignoring, or setting aside" the landmark ruling, Roque said. The case was filed in 2013 by Duterte's predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague's ruling invalidated China's vast territorial claims to the South China Sea on historical grounds and the Philippines overwhelmingly won its case.

China has refused to acknowledge the ruling and continues to claim nearly the entire South China Sea.

Duterte has repeatedly said the country cannot afford to go to war against China, but has promised to bring up the arbitral ruling with China during his term.

"Not now, but in due time," Roque reiterated Friday.

'Critics can shut up'

Vietnam's leader praised the way Duterte handled the maritime row with China.

"We will learn from his handling of China. The President handled China very well," Roque quoted a statement from Phuc.

Critics have slammed Duterte's soft stance on China in the long-standing maritime row. Roque took a swipe at them, even mentioning Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.

PHOTOS: PRRD at the Bilateral Meeting with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Phuc

"I hope Justice Carpio and all the critics of President Duterte will now keep quiet because this is now a statement of the Philippine president made to another state… that he is not in anyway abandoning the arbitration," Roque said.

Carpio was part of the Philippine delegation to The Hague that argued for and won the country's case against China in July 2016.