On 4th anniversary of arbitral win vs China, PH insists award ‘non-negotiable’
MANILA, Philippines — The unanimous award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the South China Sea case rendered in favor of the Philippines is “non-negotiable.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said this on Sunday as the country marked the 4th anniversary of the historic ruling by the Hague Tribunal on July 12, 2016, which invalidated China’s expansive claims over the entire South China Sea and upheld and Philippines’ rights over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
In his statement, a copy of which was posted on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) website, Locsin noted that the Philippines, “as a law-abiding, peace-loving and responsible member of the international community, reaffirms on this occasion its adherence to the award and its enforcement without any possibility of compromise or change.”
He reiterated that the ruling is “a contribution of great significance and consequence to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea and to the peace and stability of the region at large.”
The anniversary of the PCA ruling came in the wake of the reported military exercises conducted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy in the South China Sea, particularly in waters off Paracel Islands from July 1 to 5.
Locsin had warned China that it would be met with “severest response” should its military exercises in the South China Sea “spillover” to the Philippine territory.
Meanwhile, the United States, the Philippines’ long-standing military ally, sent ships on patrol in the disputed territories just last week on what could be another show of force against Chinese aggression.
Locsin stressed that the arbitration award “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.”
“As a reaffirmation of UNCLOS, and by laying down an authoritative interpretation of key UNCLOS provisions such as Article 121(3), the award is a milestone in the corpus of international law, the cornerstone of a rules-based regional and international order,” the country’s top diplomat said.
He then recalled that the Tribunal “authoritatively ruled that China’s claim of historic rights to resources within maritime areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law” and that claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, “are without legal effect.”
“On maritime entitlements generated by features in the South China Sea, the Tribunal conclusively ruled that none of the features in the Spratly Islands is capable of generating extended maritime zones and that the Spratly Islands cannot generate maritime zones collectively as a unit,” Locsin said.
The DFA chief also pointed out that the Tribunal found that the Philippines could declare certain maritime areas part of its EEZ, as these areas do not overlap with any possible entitlement claimed by China.
“The Tribunal ruled that certain actions within the Philippines’ EEZ violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and were thus unlawful; that large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands caused severe environmental harm in violation of international conventions; that the large-scale harvesting of endangered marine species damaged the marine ecosystem; and that actions taken since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the disputes,” Locsin said.
He concluded that the award “represents a victory, not just for the Philippines, but for the entire community of consistently law-abiding nations.”
It was the Aquino administration that brought China to court. The PCA ruling was handed out just days upon President Rodrigo Duterte’s assumption.
Despite the award favoring the Philippines, Duterte has chosen to shelve the ruling in exchange for Chinese economic perks to help fund his administration’s infrastructure projects even as the Asian powerhouse continues with its military activities within Philippine territory.
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