PH can ‘fortify’ PCA ruling by forging pact with other coastal nations – Carpio
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines could consider forming an agreement with Vietnam, Malaysia, and several Western countries to “fortify” the July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday.
According to him, such an agreement should ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in the area in accordance with international laws and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Carpio, who was part of the legal team that defended the Philippines’ case before the tribunal, raised this proposal as a next step for the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte last week invoked Manila’s arbitral victory before the United Nations General Assembly.
“Vietnam and Malaysia actually support the arbitral ruling. The arbitral ruling says that in the Spratlys, there are no geological features that generate an exclusive economic zone, only territorial sea. We can enter into a convention with Malaysia and Vietnam…that in the Spratlys, there are only territorial seas and beyond those territorial seas, will be the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines,” Carpio said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
Carpio said the Philippines can also include Indonesia and Brunei, which likewise have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, in the agreement.
Other coastal nations, including Western states, can also be invited to join the convention, he further said.
“We can invite also the US, France, Britain, Australia, Japan, and all other coastal states to join the convention and that will fortify the ruling. I’m sure the US and its allies will join in that convention because they’re actually doing it now. They’re sailing in the West Philippine Sea, exercising freedom of navigation,” the retired justice said.
“That convention can simply say that, in accordance with the arbitral ruling, the islands in the Spratlys can generate only a territorial sea and beyond the territorial sea is the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Vietnam will recognize that; Malaysia will recognize that. So we are fortifying the ruling,” he added.
China, under its expansive nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, has been asserting ownership of the Spratly Islands and its many reefs as well as other parts within the West Philippine Sea.
China insisted that it has “historic rights” in asserting its ownership of the strategic waterway in the Asian region.
On July 12, 2016, the PCA handed down its decision favoring the Philippines’ case and invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim but Beijing has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.
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