UN court verdict on sea row out soon
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was expected to release “in the coming weeks,” a decision addressing Manila’s 15-point claims against Beijing’s massive military buildup in the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said the decision will focus on the 15 submissions raised by the Philippine panel, with the 15th point calling on the arbitration court to order “China [to] desist from further unlawful claims and activities.”
But while it awaits the decision of the arbitration court “in the coming weeks,” the government cannot divulge options for the Philippines, Jose said.
A senior diplomat and expert on maritime security, who requested anonymity, however said that “the Philippines and obviously the international community do not expect China to abide by the arbitration court ruling when the government wins the case.”
China’s refusal to become party to the arbitration case signifies its intent not to abide by the decision should it order a stop to its unlawful activities in the disputed territory, she added.
But the decision, the senior diplomat said, will push forward the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea being drafted by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China. The COC is a legally binding agreement and an offshoot of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) signed by China and Asean in 2002.
The COC draft, however has been with the technical working group of the two parties since 2012.
“With the decision of the arbitration tribunal on our claims to the West Philippine Sea, we hope to move forward the negotiations to a legally binding [COC] between Asean and China,” the senior diplomat said.
She added that China had submitted a note verbale to the court on August 1, 2013, where “Beijing reiterates that the Philippines should not resort to the arbitration case because it is a party to the DOC signed between Asean and China.”
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