Malacanang on Monday rejected China’s offer of incentives in exchange for the Philippines not submitting its memorial in its historic case over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“We will file the memorial in end of March so, I think that will proceed as stated by Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference.
He said that the Philippines has always insisted on the application of the rule of law and the use of a diplomatic solution to the conflict in the South China Sea.
“Insofar as we are concerned, the arbitration case before the ITLOS [International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea] is our adherence to the rules-based and [an]application of the rule law,” he added
The Philippines early last year sought arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on its assertion that China’s nine-dash line claim was illegal.
The nine-dash line covers about 80 percent of the South China Sea, including sections that Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines claims that Panatag Shoal, also referred to as Scarborough Shoal, is within its exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coast.
According to Jardeleza, the ITLOS, which the Philippines has asked to resolve a territorial dispute with China, may release its final ruling on the case next year.
“The decision on the case may be rendered in the next two years, probably, by the end of 2015,” he said. “The Philippines is very confident that we can convince the court. We feel that we have strong and just legal claims.”
Meanwhile, the Palace official said that Filipino fishermen are still allowed to fish in the disputed Panatag Shoal.
“We have fishermen there. So It’s not an issue with us,” Lacierda said.
According to him, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will be setting up fish aggregating devices called payao to serve as an alternative fishing ground for local fishermen.
“So maraming different levels of fishermen who go to those areas. It’s not just the fisherfolk. So that’s why for the fisherfolk concerned, maraming marine resources doon; but for the fisherfolk concerned, we can provide them payao. Nagawa na rin ito dati so they’re going to do that again,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE