Tribunal sets 2nd round of PH arguments

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Tribunal sets 2nd round of PH arguments
(2nd UPDATE) This second round of oral arguments 'is routine' and indicates that 'judges want clarifications,' a member of the Philippine delegation tells Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The arbitral tribunal handling the Philippines’ case against China at The Hague, Netherlands, said Manila needs to prepare for a second round of oral arguments on Monday, July 13.


“The Philippine side has undertaken sufficient preparation to ensure that the best answers will be provided to the questions expected to be propounded by the tribunal during the second round,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a bulletin Friday evening. 


The second round is set from 10 am to 1 pm on Monday, another member of the Philippine delegation said. 

The source also said the second round of oral arguments “is routine,” and that “one cannot infer anything, other than that the judges want clarifications.” 

In a bulletin earlier on Friday, July 10, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippines was bracing for the tribunal’s possible additional questions. 

Like the Philippine delegation at The Hague, the tribunal is also a powerhouse team. 

The tribunal is led by Judge Thomas Mensah of Ghana – no less than the first president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Founded in 1996, ITLOS settles disputes related to the so-called Constitution for the Oceans, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

The following members also compose the tribunal: 

  • Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany
  • Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland
  • Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France
  • Judge Alfred Soons of the Netherlands

China’s strongest argument

The tribunal has been hearing the Philippines’ arguments since Tuesday, July 7. 

The Philippines wants to prove that the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration has the right to hear the historic case. (READ: PH vs China at The Hague: ‘80% of fish’ at stake

China asserts that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the arbitral proceedings. This is China’s strongest argument.

At the same time, Manila’s team has given an overview of its 5 arguments against Beijing. (READ: EXPLAINER: Philippines’ 5 arguments vs China

One of these arguments involves China’s island-building in the West Philippine Sea. 

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday said China “has irreversibly damaged the regional marine environment, in breach of UNCLOS, by its destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea.”  

If the tribunal decides it has the right to hear the arbitral proceedings, the Philippines can present its arguments on the merits of the case at a later date. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email