PH readies ‘convincing evidence’ vs China

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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A 'voluminous' document, more than 100 pages, boosts the Philippine claim on the West Philippine Sea. It will be submitted March 30 to the UN-backed arbitral tribunal.

HISTORIC CASE. The Philippines is set to file its written pleading against China on March 30. File 2012 photo of Chinese surveillance ships off Scarborough Shoal by DFA/Philippine Navy/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a “voluminous” document, more than 100 pages, that contains “very convincing” evidence against China’s claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

This is how Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Monday evening, March 24, described Manila’s written pleading against Beijing that is due on Sunday, March 30.

Del Rosario said the Philippines is “virtually” ready to file the document, called a memorial.

The Philippines is required to submit the memorial through e-mails and courier deliveries, which should come with soft copies in storage devices such as USBs.

In an e-mail to Rappler, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said the Philippines will submit the memorial on the deadline itself. (READ: PH ‘fully committed’ to file pleading vs China)

“I think it’s a very convincing piece of document,” Del Rosario told reporters after a media conference in Makati City.

No escape for China

The memorial, after all, should come with “all documentary, witness, expert, and other evidence” that the Philippines intends to rely on, according to the Rules of Procedure set by the designated arbitral tribunal supported by the United Nations.

It should also have as attachments the “legal authorities (such as treaties, laws, decrees, or judicial decisions) cited in their submissions.”

NO TO CHINA'S CLAIMS. In July 2013, policemen block protesters from going near the building that houses the Chinese consulate. File photo by LeANNE Jazul/Rappler

The Rules of Procedure also show that Beijing, which has rejected the arbitral proceedings, has no escape from Manila’s pleading.

China will receive it in any case.

Like the arbitral tribunal, China will find the memorial on its doorstep through e-mail and courier. The hard copies should come with “a complete electronic copy” in a USB flash drive or another electronic device, “if possible in searchable Adobe PDF.”

‘Strong case’

The registry, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, the Netherlands, will receive copies, too.

The Philippines is required to “dispatch two copies of its submission to the opposing party, one copy to each member of the arbitral tribunal, and four copies to the registry.”

The Philippines will submit the memorial after China reportedly offered incentives to stop this. Observers also warned about a possible backlash from Beijing.

By filing the memorial, the Philippines not only seeks to defend the merits of the case, but also to clear a major hurdle. It is a question of jurisdiction, of whether the arbitral tribunal should hear the case in the first place. (READ: PH faces major hurdle in China case)

The Philippines’ lawyer in its case against China, Paul Reichler, however told Rappler he is confident about the case. “I will simply say that the entire legal team that has been engaged by the Philippines believes that the Philippines has a strong case, both on jurisdiction and on the merits.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email