PH vs China: Round 2 in UN court
THE PHILIPPINES will again face China as the second round of oral arguments on the arbitration case challenging Beijing’s sweeping claim over all of the South China Sea began Tuesday.
The first session was to start at 2:30 p.m. in the Netherlands (9:30 p.m. Manila) Tuesday.
Led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, the 48-member Philippine delegation is now in The Hague for the oral hearings before a five-member tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The Philippines’ case falls under the Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the international treaty defining the nations’ rights and responsibilities with respect to the use of the world’s oceans.
Five international lawyers led by Paul Reichler of the Boston-based law firm Foley Hoag are presenting the Philippine case before the ad hoc arbitral tribunal which earlier ruled that it has jurisdiction over the case.
Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, the Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said the Philippines will be presenting the “gist of the case” in the second round of oral hearings.
“This is the gist of the arbitration case. We already got past the jurisdiction issue. Now they will discuss the very heart of the case versus China at the arbitral tribunal,” he said.
In an Oct. 30 ruling favorable to the Philippines, the tribunal explained that its jurisdiction covers seven out of the 15 submissions made by the Philippines.
But that ruling does not give the Philippines “a sure win,” said former diplomat Lauro Baja.
The Philippines had only avoided a shut-out had the tribunal ruled in favor of China, he said.
“The decision of the panel opens challenges and opportunities for the Philippines and other stakeholders to recalibrate their approaches in the South China Sea issue,” he said.
Confident in decision
“The sea ahead is still very long and fraught with danger,” said Baja, who drafted and negotiated the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Jose said the Philippines is confident that the decision which will come out in early 2016 will be favorable.
However, he said it would be unrealistic to expect to get a favorable decision on all 15 submissions.
“For us, it is important to clarify the nine-dash line claim of China and if it has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea based on historic rights,” Jose said.