Philippines ready to go to world court ‘unilaterally’ over Scarborough row
MANILA, Philippine – The Philippines is preparing to go to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) unilaterally if China will not come, a foreign affairs official said Friday.
Foreign Affairs undersecretary Raul Hernandez said in a press conference that “if China will not go with us to ITLOS, our legal team will go to ITLOS unilaterally.”
“We are asserting not only our territorial rights, but also our sovereign rights over that area,” Hernandez said.
He said that they were still hoping for a diplomatic solution to the standoff.
The Philippines and China have been in a standoff at the Scarborough Shoal since April 10, when Chinese fishing vessels were found there carrying corals, giant clams and live sharks as well as other endangered marine species.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the Philippine Navy’s largest and newest ship, proceeded to the area and was set to arrest the Chinese fishing vessels when two maritime surveillance vessels of China blocked the path of the Gregorio del Pilar.
The fishing vessels have since left the shoal along with several maritime surveillance vessels who took turns observing the Philippines’ ships.
China maintains that historically the Scarborough Shoal, or Huangyan Island, is part of its territory while the Philippines invokes the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which recognizes the 370-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines that includes the shoal.
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