DFA: Vietnam backs PH case vs China

Paterno Esmaquel II
The DFA says it 'is a possibility' that Vietnam will participate in the unprecedented case over the South China Sea

VIETNAM'S SUPPORT. Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh meets with Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on August 1. Photo by Arcel Cometa

MANILA, Philippines – Vietnam supports the Philippines’ unprecedented case against China over the South China Sea, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Thursday, August 1, adding it “is a possibility” that Vietnam will participate in it.

In an interview after a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Del Rosario said Vietnam is “very supportive” of the case that the Philippines filed against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“We’re discussing the possibilities of how we may be able to cooperate more closely with them in terms of the settlement of these disputes,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario on Thursday met with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, and discussed ensuring the rule of law in territorial disputes.

When asked if Vietnam is open to “interplead” in the Philippines’ case against China, Del Rosario replied: “That’s one option that, of course, is a possibility, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Vietnam is embroiled in its own dispute with China over the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea.

READ: Fast facts: South China Sea, a decades-long source of tension

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In a phone interview with Rappler, maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said a party that interpleads “wants to be part of the action.” This means participating in the arbitration with its own agents and counsel, said Batongbacal, who heads the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

Batongbacal, however, said Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the basis for the arbitral proceedings, does not bring up interventions like this.

“Annex VII does not provide for intervention (or) interpleader. Therefore, it can only be allowed if it is permitted in the tribunal’s rules of proceedings as agreed (upon) by the parties,” he explained.

Despite opposition from Beijing, the designated arbitral tribunal began to hear the Philippines’ case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) in July. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.