Lawmakers hail ruling on Philippines’ case vs China

Mara Cepeda
(UPDATED) Legislators at the House of Representatives are elated by the Philippines' historic win against China over the West Philippine Sea dispute

HISTORIC. Lawmakers at the House of Representatives share what they think about the historic ruling on the West Philippine Sea. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

This page will be updated as lawmakers release their statements on the ruling. 

MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – Lawmakers hailed the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the Philippines’ case against China, Tuesday, July 12.

The arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of Manila, declaring that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources… within the sea areas falling within” Beijing’s so-called 9-dash line.

Lawmakers at the Philippine House of Representatives weighed in on the historic decision.

Presumptive House Speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez:

I join the Filipino people in welcoming the decision of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines in the case we filed contesting China’s claim over virtually all of the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea.

“At the same time, we should urge China as part of the community of nations to respect the decision of the Arbitral Court and to adhere to the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes in accordance with international law.

“The case filed by the Philippine government before the Arbitral Court is premised on our stand that we are entitled to a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China, we must point out, is a signatory to Unclos. Thus, because of our EEZ, we should be allowed to conduct exploration activities in the area for our own economic benefit.

“At this point, let me commend the efforts of the Philippine delegation with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for the rigorous research on the issue and helping the government and our people better understand its nuances and ramifications for the nation and our foreign policy. 

“Meantime, the Philippine government, including Congress, will thoroughly study the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration so that we can determine our next moves on the issue, particularly with respect to stepping up economic exploration efforts in the South China Sea and maintaining peace and stability in the region.”

Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao:

“Now, our claim over the West Philippine Sea is clearer than ever. The decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration is a victory for and of our sovereignty. At this point, we must congratulate all those who toiled to make this happen – former President Noynoy Aquino, former DFA Sec Albert del Rosario, Justice Antonio Carpio, and the entire legal team. It is in our fervent hope that the new administration will continue what its predecessor has started. We must maintain and strengthen our efforts and use this victory as our leverage in our diplomatic engagements with the Chinese government, which must respect the ruling of the international tribunal and reaffirm its commitment to lasting regional and global peace.”

Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr:

“Just validates what we had already insisted before – that area is ours and China is the illegal occupant.  

This is the ruling by an international court as sanctioned by the UN. This cannot be cheapened by a statement that sets aside the ruling in any bilateral or multilateral talks to resolve the matter. In fact, this bolsters our position in whatever negotiations this government intends to undertake with China and other claimants.  

“I’m amenable to discussing possible joint development of the area for peaceful economic purposes. Definitely, we must come from the position that the area is ours and that any joint development must not belittle that.” 

AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe:

“It is a victory not only for the Filipino nation but for the cause of peace and rule of law. This will enrich jurisprudence on international law and will serve as a moral compass on how nations will treat the South China Sea dispute.”

Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon:

“The ruling is a most welcome development in the PH-CH dispute in the WPS. A victory in the international arena which gives the PH moral and legal basis to seek support from other nations in our claim for our rights in that part of the world. 

“However, the favorable decision is not the end goal. It even compels us to pursue the claim since it will be awkward if we celebrate the arbitration decision and our next step isn’t consistent with asserting what we have won in a fair court. 

“Assertion of our legal victory does not necessarily mean we immediately deploy our naval, air and military assets to the area or even escalate civilian activity. We should not provoke. 

“It may mean the Philippines pursuing more diplomatic and legal steps to gain more legal backing for our claim to the area.

“The Philippine Team which presented and argued our case in The Hague deserve the nation’s gratitude for the good work they have done.

“We should tell the story of this victory to the Marines… the Marines who have served in the past, serving in the present and will serve in the future guarding and asserting our sovereignty on board BRP Sierra Madre that the performance of their duty has not, is not and will never be in vain. And it’s an international court which agrees with us on that.”

Kabayan Representative Harry Roque:

“It’s a big win for Philippines but my view remains: It does not settle entirety of controversy as it did not rule on issue of title to disputed islands. We still need to rely on negotiations but this win has brought us tremendous bargaining leverage.” (READ: Lawmaker to Duterte: Convene LEDAC after PH-China case ruling)

Marikina 2nd District Representative Miro Quimbo:

“Stupendous! I feel so proud as a Filipino. It validates what we’ve been saying for the longest time – that no amount of bullying and massive artificial construction by the Chinese will ripen into legitimacy. The 9-dash line has effectively been dismissed by the international tribunal. It’s now time for China to show to the world that it is a superpower that will act with responsibility and humility. This is a chance for them to disprove that they are a bully that preys on the smaller and weaker countries.”

Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco:

“I’ve had numerous policy differences with the the PNoy admin in the past, but we have to give credit where credit is due. We have to congratulate PNoy and DFA Secreyary Albert del Rosario for this victory for the Filipino people. It will now be up to the Duterte administration to make the most out of the favorable decision.”
Camarine Sur 2nd District Represenative Luis Ray Villafuerte:
“I join our countrymen in welcoming the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) and extend our gratitude to the officials who worked tirelessly to obtain this historic ruling. Dios mabalos po.

“May this be the first of many positive steps toward the peaceful resolution of issues relative to the West Philippine Sea. Now is the time to use diplomacy to have a peaceful settlement this issue in the region.

Let this promising development also serve to rally our people behind flag and country; while there may be numerous views as to how this ruling can best be leveraged to advance our interests, we should all stand as one in  celebrating this ruling not just as a victory of the Filipino People, but as a monumental triumph of the rule of law. “

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin:

“Ruling is a triumph of diplomacy. Now, we can hold high our heads over WPS (West Philippine Sea). 9-dash line has no legal basis; and that China violated Philippine sovereign rights regarding the exclusive economic zone.”

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate:

“The Hague Arbitral Tribunal strengthens and solidifies the Philippine position in future bilateral talks with China, especially now that her expansionist 9-dash line theory is declared without legal, historical and moral basis.

“China has already reclaimed at least 7 of our reefs such as the Panganiban (Mischief), Mabini (Johnson South), Gavin (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), Hughes (Kennan), Malvar (Eldad) and Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reefs, that are clearly within Philippine territory and exclusive economic zone but hardly anything has been done by the previous Aquino administration to effectively address it.

“We also urge the administration of Pangulong Digong Duterte to initiate further diplomatic moves to strengthen our own claims and fortify our positions, even as we engaged China in mutually beneficial bilateral or multilateral talks.

“Every Filipino here or abroad should defend our territory, our exclusive economic zones, our national sovereignty.”


Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.