Fact checks about countries

FACT CHECK: The Philippines did not go to the UN for an arbitral ruling in 2016

Rappler.com
FACT CHECK: The Philippines did not go to the UN for an arbitral ruling in 2016
The Philippines filed a case against China on January 22, 2013, under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.

Claim: The Philippines sought an arbitral ruling on territorial disputes in the South China Sea against China in 2016.

While discussing the supposed success that current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. achieved in his state visit to China from January 3 to January 5, the video posted by Facebook user “Noel Polo TV” makes the false claim in a voice-over saying: “…At noong 2016, lumapit ang Manila sa United Nation (sic) para kumuha ng arbitral ruling sa pag-angkin ng Beijing sa South China Sea.”

(“…And in 2016, Manila approached the United Nation (sic) to obtain an arbitral ruling for Beijing’s claim in the South China Sea.”)

The false claim was said while a photo of former president Rodrigo Duterte was shown to make the historic move appear to have been made under the Duterte administration.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The video making the obviously false claim has garnered over 4,300 reactions, 626 comments, and 163,000 views.

The bottom line: The Philippines filed a case against China on January 22, 2013, under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III. This move was initiated by the Aquino administration, not the Duterte administration. The arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled in favor of the Philippines on July 12, 2016, a mere 12 days after Aquino left office, and by which time his successor former president Rodrigo Duterte had taken over.

The 501-page arbitration award made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) concluded that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’.” Its basis is the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Touting the Hague ruling as Duterte’s win blatantly disregards how the Duterte administration continuously downplayed this victory during his 6-year tenure.

Flip-flop: Duterte had made conflicting statements regarding the territorial dispute in the South China Sea. On July 27, 2016, Duterte thanked Aquino for filing and winning the case against China, only for him to falsely claim in 2018 that Aquino did nothing to enforce the same ruling that had only taken effect after Aquino left office.

Despite calling the ruling an ace card in 2016, Duterte softened his initial hardline stance to defend the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the disputed seas, opting to prioritize diplomatic ties with China. In 2021, Duterte belittled the Hague ruling, claiming that it was just a piece of paper that can be thrown out. – Pola Regalario/Rappler.com
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