Philippines sees ruling on China case by 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines sees a ruling on its historic case against China by 2016, the Philippines' lawyer in this arbitration said, as China refuses to participate in these proceedings.
The Philippines' lead counsel in the case, Washington-based Paul Reichler, said the Philippines is anticipating the final judgment of the arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration “in January 2016 or sometime between January and March 2016.”
Reichler disclosed this in a forum hosted by Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US-based think-tank, on July 11. (READ: Ratify UNCLOS, Philippines' lawyer says)
Reichler explained that China is unlikely to respond to Manila's nearly 4,000-page memorial or written pleading against Beijing, which was submitted to the tribunal on March 30.
The tribunal has ordered China to respond to the Philippines' memorial by December 15.
Experts have said it is unlikely China will submit its counter-memorial because it has consistently rejected the Philippines' case. China, in the first place, questions the tribunal's jurisdiction over the arbitration. (READ: PH faces major hurdle in China case)
Reichler said if China does not submit the counter-memorial – “and they cannot be persuaded to participate” – the tribunal “has an alternate procedure.”
This alternative is that, “on the following day, the tribunal will present a series of questions both on jurisdiction and merits to the Philippines, arising from the Philippines' memorial, and give the Philippines approximately 3 months to answer those questions.”
Nearly 2-week oral hearings
The Philippines' submission will be followed by oral hearings “between the 7th and 18th of July 2015,” Reichler said.
“Again we hope that China will participate. But if not, they will go forward anyway, with the Philippines appearing before the tribunal to make its arguments, and to respond to questions from the tribunal,” he said.
He noted that arbitral awards “are issued within 6 to 8 months of the conclusion of the oral hearings.”
In the absence of a Chinese representative in the tribunal, Reichler said: “I think it's very clear that the members of the tribunal will do everything possible to familiarize themselves with China's claims, and I think we assume they will be reading all of these law review articles and other articles that China has caused to be put into publication.”
“We're happy about that. We want all of China's claims to be out in the open so that they can be duly considered by the tribunal and of course responded to by the Philippines,” he added.
Earlier, Philippine Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said the Philippines is forced to present China's arguments before the arbitral tribunal, “because we have to kind of anticipate what the arguments will be, and knock them down.” (READ: PH finds China case 'doubly difficult')
Even out of court, however, China has begun to subject the Philippines to trial by publicity, according to experts. – Rappler.com