President Duterte now faces a dilemma over how to handle the fallout from the case, which was initiated by his predecessor. He wants to repair ties with China, but can’t appear weak when it comes to defending Philippine sovereignty.
“There is overwhelming public opinion against China on this issue’’ among Filipinos, Mr. Casiple said. “The president cannot go against that.”
Protesters outside the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday—among them fishermen who have been blocked by Chinese ships from fishing in disputed waters—called on President Duterte to leverage the tribunal verdict to fight for their interests. On social media, Filipinos celebrated a victory in what many here see as a David-and-Goliath struggle.
U.S. State Department Counselor Kristie Kenney, who concluded a four-day visit to Manila on Tuesday, said ahead of the ruling that the U.S. urged all parties to respect the verdict. Ms. Kenney had earlier held talks with senior administration officials as the U.S. seeks to establish ties with the new government.