• PH arbitration case is the people’s fight


    LET’S get our perspectives straight on the country’s arbitration case against China as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in the Netherlands holds hearings on the case this week from Tuesday night.

    It is a hearing not on the merits of the Philippine complaint but on whether the arbitration court has jurisdiction over the case.

    It is the PCA, and not the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), that is conducting the jurisdictional hearing, because China’s refusal to take part in the proceedings prompted the need for compulsory arbitration.

    It is not President Aquino who is the party to this suit, although he instigated and fueled it. Instead, it’s the Filipino people and the Philippine Republic – which means all of us, Chinese-Filipinos included.

    The international community and the whole world must see that there is no Filipino division or partisanship on this issue. All Filipinos are complainants before the tribunal, seeking recognition and vindication of our nation’s rights under international law.

    We stand behind our panel
    And we all stand behind our panel as they argue our case with all the legal arguments they can muster.

    The high count and high quality of members in the Philippine panel, which also includes, in addition, high-priced American lawyers hired by our government, attest to our confidence in the strength of our case and in the rightness of bringing the case to the United Nations.

    Arguments, of course, are not won by numbers in court; it is won by the soundness of arguments. We should feel confident that our panel, with its experience and many official titles, has what it takes to carry the day. At the very least, the international community should see how much we Filipinos care about this case.

    This stands in marked contrast to China’s position, which wavers between indifference and worry. As its policy and strategy, China has made the calculated decision not to participate in the hearings. It has also decided out-of-hand not to accept any decision that will be favorable to the Philippines.

    Despite the posturing, China in truth is worried about what could happen in the weeklong hearings.

    In a position paper, China questioned the tribunal’s jurisdiction over the matter. In response and in a little-noticed decision made in April, the tribunal acknowledged China’s objections and announced that a hearing on jurisdiction from July 7-13 would be held first.

    This is why our government felt compelled to field a top-level team for the jurisdiction hearings. In the jurisdiction hearings, the burden of persuading the tribunal falls wholly and squarely on our panel. China will not be arguing to the contrary.

    In order to fully present our case, which is backed by thousands of pages of historical documents, we must win the jurisdictional issue. The arbitration court must rule that it has jurisdiction over the case.

    The hearings will be closely watched by Asian governments and Washington because of the tensions in the South China Sea, especially in the Spratlys. While professing indifference, China has been following developments in the case closely. Through the Chinese embassy at The Hague, it has established a formal line of communication with the tribunal.

    China’s statement that it will reject any ruling favoring Manila does not faze our delegation. One member, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, said before departure for the Netherlands:

    “If we win, all those reclamations of China are illegal and China has no right to stay there and China must vacate, but of course there’s the big problem of how to enforce the ruling.”

    In that eventuality, the Philippines can then go “to the world community” by sponsoring a resolution at the United National General Assembly urging China to follow international law.

    Battle lines are clear
    The lines of the jurisdictional battle are clear. If the arbitration court rules that it has jurisdiction on the case, the case moves on to the presentation of the merits of our complaint. That’s where the deep bench of our panel will come in.

    On the other hand, if the PCA rules negatively, then that’s the end of the arbitration case; we return to square one – and to the hard reality of China’s massive reclamation works in the disputed area, which are of grave concern to the US, Japan, the European Union and the Association of southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

    Raising alarm over China’s actions in the disputed areas and its illegal claim to all of the South China Sea has been the chief objective of our diplomacy in this dispute. In this objective we have succeeded to some extent.

    Clearly, this is a David-vs-Goliath struggle, if reckoned in military and economic terms. But on the diplomatic and public-relations front, David has a potent slingshot, with many friends rallying behind him.


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    1. China has already done to Taiwan. Until now Taiwan is not a member of United Nation. China claimed that Taiwan is a rouge province of China. That is why Taiwan make an agreement with the United States for 10 years, if China invade Taiwan, US will defend Taiwan at all cost. Do you remember when chinese make an exercise at China sea, to prepare for the invasion of China to Taiwan. Immediately TAiwan called for help from the USA, and US sent their 7 fleet at near Taiwan Sea, including their Aircraft carrier. So, china didnt continue their plan to invade taiwan. If we have a military might that will face china, they will never bully us.China dont want to listen to the united nations..sa Haque pa kaya..

    2. I agree, its the fight of all Pilipino. If you dont agree, then get out of our country and live somewhere.

    3. Munizki Swavurzki on

      This case at the Hague is very important for the Filipinos, we will win the case but we my also lose. But one thing is certain, we know how to fight! What is ours should never be taken away from us. There was also a time in our history when China tried to invade the Philippines. With the help of Japanese Samurais, the Chinese invaders were slaughtered and many decapitated and others run towards Pangasinan to escape. China would like to get the West Philippine Sea by intimidation because they knew for a fact that they were wrong in claiming the whole area for them. If they engage us at the Hague, they think that they are sure of losing. It is obvious that they will not participate in the Arbitration Court in whatever form, because they dont have an iota of doubt and the courage to win the case.

    4. I do not stand with our panel. It is a waste of our money and will accomplish nothing is resolving the dispute with China. We should have just thrown the money on the street for the poor to pick up. That is a better course of action than this one.

      • The delegation to the Hague is overwhelming in size but the “hakot” crown is meaningless in such venue. It is nothing but a high priced junket for the government officials as their last hurrah to savor the money of the people in the fading Aquino administration. These people just love to spend the people’s money for their own vanity.

      • genesisbughaw on

        it’s easy to say.
        please bear in mind that our fellow filipinos fisherman economic life and well being are stake here.

        There is an existing law under UNCLOS -Exclusive Economic Zone.

        The legal civilized minds knew where they stand.

      • Munizki Swavurzki on

        If you are not with us then you are against us!!!!!! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!!! The obvious is that China doesn’t have a single argument to claim the whole West Philippine Sea other than to bully the small and weak nations of their legal rights. Boycott products made in China!!!!!!! mga sirain naman yung mga yun. hehehe

    5. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      07 July 2015

      The oral arguments before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Peace Palace in The Hague, sheduled for 6-13 July, may go one way or the other for the Philippines, meaning the PCA could rule that it has jurisdiction, in which case further hearings ON THE MERITS will be scheduled, or it could rule that it has no jurisdiction—and that should be the end of it.

      But the world community will know that should hearings ON THE MERITS have gone forward, China would very likely lose the case.

      In the event China may not obey or honor the ruling of the PCA. Because the PCA has no enforcement apparatus, China will be free to go on with its illegal reclamations and constructions on those maritime structures in the Western Philippine Sea–and continue to MILITARIZE these. But it will risk being dubbed a ROGUE STATE by the world community.


      • The second and soon the number one economically powerful country can never be considered a rogue state. That label is only reserved for under developed countries like the Philippines and a lot of African states. Be real!