Senators hail PH’s arbitration victory vs China
SENATORS on Tuesday welcomed the Philippines’ landmark victory in its arbitration case against China over the disputed South China Sea (West Philippines Sea).
Former Justice secretary Sen. Leila de Lima, who was present during the oral arguments on the Philippines’ case against China in The Hague, said the ruling will give the country an “international legal basis” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) “to challenge China’s further expansionist moves.”
“The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague is a welcome affirmation of our right to our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the limits of China’s expansionist plans in the West Philippine Sea. With this ruling, it is hoped that the present Administration will be properly guided in its future actions, especially in its declared bias for bilateral talks which has only proven to be always one-sided in favor of the world power at the other end of the table,” De Lima said in a statement.
“Together with our western allies like the United States, Japan, and the international community in general, we should utilize this ruling to the utmost in defense of our sovereignty, EEZ entitlements and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea,” she added.
Outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon called on other nations to respect the ruling and the rule of law, urging the government to carefully study its next moves toward a peaceful resolution.
“We hope that the decision puts to rest any tension, mend strained relations, and restore goodwill among countries in the region. ASEAN and China can now move forward to finalize the Code of Conduct to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Drilon said.
“The Philippines will study the ruling and its ramifications, and plan its next steps, bearing in mind the utmost need for peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law and the maintenance of friendly relations among nations,” he added.
Sen. Bam Aquino said the decision paved the way for a possibly favorable outcome in any future multilateral or bilateral talks that the Philippines would go into with other nations.
“Hindi madaling makipagtunggali sa bansang mas malaki at mas malakas sa atin, ngunit kailangang maging matapang…The international tribunal has backed our claim and it’s clear that China must comply as a member of the community of nations,” he said.
Neophyte Sen. Joel Villanueva also expressed optimism that China will soon respect the ruling, “as it will have a lasting implication on the global trade given that the West Philippine Sea is one of the busiest trade routes in the world.”
“I call on China to respect the Tribunal’s decision and for both parties to work together for our mutual benefit as all neighbors must,” Villanueva said.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration on Tuesday released its 501-page decision on the arbitration case, which concluded that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.’”/rga
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