THE PHILIPPINE government is looking for “peaceful and diplomatic means” to assert the country’s sovereignty over parts of the disputed South China Sea, the President’s spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“We have not waived nor have we relinquished these rights. Unfortunately, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling has no way of being enforced by the body which rendered it, so we must look to other means to resolve the dispute,” Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said in a statement.

The statement comes after a special Social Weather Stations special survey showed 70% of Filipinos believe that the Philippine government should protect its sovereignty against China.

Beijing has never recognized the international court’s July 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippine’s claim on the West Philippine Sea, dismissing China’s nine-dash line assertion.

The case was filed by the Philippine government under President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, predecessor of President Rodrigo R. Duterte who assumed office in July 2016.

Mr. Duterte has sought closer trade and investment ties with China.

Earlier this week, Mr. Roque said the Philippine’s sea dispute with China is not the “sum total” of the two countries’ relations. — Gillian M. Cortez