Duterte urged to use tribunal ruling to assert PH rights vs China
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – What’s next after an arbitral tribunal at The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in its historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)?
“With this legal advantage, the Chief Diplomat and Architect of our foreign policy, President Rodrigo Duterte, can now proceed with the necessary tools at his disposal to get the job done,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza said on Tuesday, July 12, in a joint briefing with former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
Jardeleza and Hilbay were the Philippines' solicitors general when the Aquino administration filed and argued the case at The Hague.
The Palace said Tuesday night that Solicitor General Jose Calida would provide President Duterte "a synopsis of the ruling tomorrow morning and a complete and thorough interpretation in 5 days."
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on Tuesday said it had concluded that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources, in excess of the rights provided for by the Convention, within the sea areas falling within the 'nine-dash line.'"
Jardeleza said that after the award, which is “binding on China," the next step would be up to the country’s policy makers. (READ: Summary of ruling on Philippines-China case)
“It has been the consistent view of the legal team that this Award will be a potent legal platform as our country moves forward to the political and diplomatic phase of our goal of effectively asserting our maritime entitlements under [the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea],” Jardeleza said.
The former Solicitor General enumerated the findings of the tribunal, which he said agreed “with almost all of our 15 submissions”:
- The 9-dash line of China is contrary to UNCLOS and has no basis in law.
- Scarborough Shoal and 5 other reefs named in our submission are rocks that generate no entitlements to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.
- Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities, and that China has unlawfully prevented Filipino fishermen from engaging in traditional fishing thereat.
- Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, and Reed Bank are submerged at high tide, and form part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines, and are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.
- Reed Bank is an entirely submerged reef formation that cannot give rise to maritime entitlements.
- China violated its obligations under UNCLOS to protect and preserve the marine environment.
- China has engaged in the construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines.
"The award is a declaration of rights and entitlements. What can be done moving forward is for our policy makers. The options are largely diplomatic and political," he added.
Asked what the Philippines did not get based on the ruling, Jardeleza answered: "During the standoff at Scarborough Shoal...part of the ruling says there's no jurisdiction because military ships were involved."
He stressed that the award is final, and that the Philippines has always hoped China "will abide as a member of the family of nations."
"Again, that will be a matter for the Philippine government, for our diplomats to meet the challenge of the response of China" Jardeleza said. "We will not preempt the executive department from getting all of the options."
In August 2014, Rappler reported on deliberations by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), where Jardeleza, then applying as Supreme Court justice, was accused of disloyalty and possibly committing a culpable violation of the Constitution.
Sources in the who are knowledgeable about what transpired during deliberations told Rappler he deleted a “portion” in the memorandum submitted by the Philippines to a United Nations-backed tribunal.
The deleted portion, totaling 14 paragraphs, was reinserted at the last minute, but only after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima intervened and informed President Benigno Aquino III about it.
Its deletion would have resulted in a “colossal mistake” undermining the country’s legal claim and territorial integrity, Rappler sources privy to the case said. (READ: The inside story: Jardeleza accused of disloyalty to PH) – Rappler.com