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Maps, charts to back up PH case vs China

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines will be submitting a “voluminous” amount of documents containing arguments, maps and charts to the United Nations arbitration tribunal to bolster its case in its South China Sea territorial dispute with China.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the supplemental submission to be sent to the tribunal in the Hague between Friday and March 16 answers all the questions raised by the tribunal on behalf of China.

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“There were 26 questions and we answered all of them and we included maps and charts… It’s voluminous,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario has left for the United States to meet with the country’s legal counsel in the arbitration case and to make sure that the submission has completely answered the tribunal’s questions.

The document must reach the tribunal by March 16 as stipulated by the arbitration body. China, on the other hand, has until June 16, to respond to the Philippines’ written comments.

According to Del Rosario, oral hearings will then be scheduled between July 8 and July 20.

“After that, we hope that six to 8 months later, the decision will come down,” he said.

The UN tribunal made the queries to the Philippines despite China’s refusal to participate in the proceedings.

China snubbed the deadline set by the tribunal on Dec. 15, 2014, for it to submit its counter-memorial and defend its nine-dash-line claim over the entire South China Sea.

The Philippines earlier submitted a 4,000-page memorial on its position that it has the right to exploit waters and resources within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Instead, China issued a position paper on Dec. 7, 2014, accusing the Philippines of having violated international law when it went directly to the United Nations as both sides earlier agreed to settle disputes bilaterally.

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It also argued that the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the claims of the Philippines.

But Philippine officials have expressed optimism that the UN tribunal will render a ruling favorable to the country.

Meanwhile, the DFA on Wednesday launched a nationwide information, education and communication campaign on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issue in Cebu City.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), partnering with the Philippine Information Agency, led the multi-sectoral forum in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City.

DFA spokesman and assistant secretary Charles Jose conducted a briefing on the South China Sea territorial disputes before more than 80 students, national and local government officials, uniformed personnel, and members of the Cebu media, business and academic communities.

Jose presented the core issues, the principles that guide Philippine response to the issues, and the steps that are being undertaken by the government to address the dispute.

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TAGS: Albert Del Rosario, arbitration, charts, China, Maps, Philippines, sea row, South China Sea, territorial dispute, UN tribunal
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