Latest Stories

Del Rosario: Taking sea case to arbitration was last resort

By ,

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario: Last resort. Photo by DFA

MANILA, Philippines—The Aquino administration on Saturday said it sought United Nations arbitration as a “last resort” because China had refused to withdraw its ships from Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), which the country insists is within Philippine territory.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that it was China—not the Philippines—that was now occupying the contested shoal.

Del Rosario was answering China’s accusation that the Philippines’ resort to international arbitration was an attempt to “cover in a cloak of legality its occupation of Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea.” China was referring to the Philippines’ occupation of some areas in the contested Spratlys group of islands.

The Philippines last week informed China that it had asked the Arbitral Tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to declare as illegal China’s nine-dash-line map, which claims almost all the islands in the South China Sea and encompasses territories the Philippines believes it rightfully owns.

China has said it was against internationalizing the issue and proposed bilateral negotiations instead. The Philippines’ move also came as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), of which the Philippines is a founding member, continued talks to draw up a code of conduct to prevent conflicts regarding territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Del Rosario said the country formally sought the assistance of the Arbitral Tribunal after all other remedies had been exhausted.

“The Philippine choice of arbitration under Unclos is the last resort for a peaceful resolution on disputes in the West Philippine Sea after exhaustion of political and diplomatic approaches,” Del Rosario told the Inquirer by phone on Saturday.

On Friday, in a briefing at Malacañang, he said, “The Chinese have tried to establish a de facto occupation of Bajo de Masinloc. When we last checked, I think they had two maritime surveillance vessels there and then they had a fisheries law enforcement boat. So they have three vessels there.

He said this was what prompted the government to avail itself of the option of international arbitration.

“That train has left the station and we are trying to proceed with that. We believe that will yield the results that we’re after in terms of providing a durable solution. Any solution that we would have come up with, short of a solution that is derived from the (Unclos), I think at best (would be) a transactional solution and not a durable one,” said Del Rosario.

According to him, Manila had three approaches to deal with the sea dispute: political, diplomatic (through bilateral relations) and legal.

“I think that we have significantly moved, of course, in parallel to try and utilize all of those approaches. And we got to a point where we felt that as far as the political and the diplomatic approaches are concerned, we had exerted every possible effort there and yielded no results. So we have filed an arbitration case,” he said.

“For the Philippines, it will clarify what is ours. It will define our maritime entitlements related to fishing, access to natural resources and law enforcement in our exclusive economic zone in accordance with Unclos,” he said.

“For all other nations, it will remove the threat to freedom of navigation from the region,” Del Rosario said.

The Philippines believes China’s nine-dash line is an “excessive declaration” of its maritime territory, as it encompasses all of the West Philippine Sea, including territories closer to the Philippine shoreline than to China’s.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Albert Del Rosario , China , Diplomacy , Global Nation , Philippines , sea dispute , South China Sea , West Philippine Sea

  • yew_tan

    As far as China is concern, fcuk the UNCLOS. Next objective is to occupy Luzon and eject the Flips somewhere else. If they resist…. just annihilate them all. The whole islands of Sanfotsi, 7,100 in all belonged to China long before the Flips illegally occupied it and called it Philippines for themselves.

  • superpilipinas


    PNoy and Del Rosario are weaklings. UNCLOS should not be last resort.

    PH can forge military treaty with Japan, India, and Vietnam. All have China as a common enemy. That should be started now in the event the UNCLOS case is lost.

    It is a possibility that US will intervene to make us lose at the ITLOS.

  • Gurpreet135

    The big nation has no territorial claims on the seas.

    All its claims have been taken care of.

    The big nation is so big that small things do not bother it, especially small land.
    Water is not land. Water is only to drink.

    The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party were first published
    in November of 2004, followed quickly by an English translation. This
    series has led more than 115 million Chinese to renounce the communist
    party and its affiliated organizations, fostering an unprecedented
    peaceful movement for transformation and change in China. Here we
    republish the newly re-edited Nine Commentaries, linked to video and
    audio versions produced by our partner media, NTD Television and the SOH Radio Network. Enjoy our groundbreaking editorial series! —Eds.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Cebu has hair of John Paul II and piece of John XXIII’s skin
  • LTRFB denies victory liner appeal
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace