Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has previously vowed to fight corruption but his main focus has been a war on crime that has seen the killing of hundreds of suspected drug pushers since he was elected on May 9
The Philippines will concede nothing to China after an international tribunal outlawed Beijing's claims to most of the South China Sea, a Filipino official said Friday.
The UN-backed tribunal ruled against China this week but Beijing rejected the decision, warning of a "decisive response" to provocative actions against its security interests based on the verdict.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said late Thursday he would send former president Fidel Ramos to China to start talks on the ruling of The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.
"We will use diplomacy. I believe this is the most peaceful way of settling this," a lawyer for the Philippine government, Jose Calida, told reporters Friday.
He did not specify when talks could take place.
"We value the award given by the (tribunal), and the Philippines will not concede any of the awards given to us."
China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed talks with Ramos, but repeated Beijing's stance that the tribunal ruling cannot be the basis of any discussions.
"We'd like to resolve our disputes in the South China through bilateral negotiation and we have never closed the door to bilateral negotiation," Lu said.
"We will not accept any action or proposal based on the award of the arbitration."
Sino-Philippine relations plummeted over the maritime row under Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino, whose government filed the arbitration case in 2013.
The tribunal found Tuesday there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources in areas falling within its nine-dash line, which is based on a vague map that emerged in the 1940s.
The virtual line overlaps with waters also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The tribunal also ruled Beijing had violated the Philippines' sovereign rights to exploit resources in waters up to 340 kilometres (230 miles) beyond its coast, called its exclusive economic zone.
The tribunal also said China had inflicted severe environmental damage while building artificial islands atop seven reefs in the area, which the Philippines said was meant to reinforce its claim.
Duterte, who took office on June 30, has said he wants better relations with Beijing and to attract Chinese investment for major infrastructure projects.
His proposed envoy Ramos, who served as president from 1992 to 1998, is also known to favour close ties with China but he has yet to accept the mission.
Senior Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio warned Friday it would be illegal for Manila to jointly develop with China or any other country the resources in the areas adjudicated as part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
Carpio, a member of the Philippine team that brought the suit against China, said the Filipino constitution reserved the "use and enjoyment" of the resources in this vast maritime zone exclusively to Filipinos.
But he said Manila may engage foreign entities as contractors to extract or develop these resources.
In response, Calida said: "Certainly we will not do something illegal or unconstitutional".