PH asserts environmental, fishing claims

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LAWYERS representing the Philippines asserted the country’s environmental and fishing claims in the South China Sea against China during the second day of arbitration hearings in The Netherlands.

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Malacanang deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, who is in The Hague, on Thursday said international law expert Alan Boyle made a presentation “regarding the strength of the Philippines’ environmental and fishing claims against China” at the continuation of the first round of arguments on Wednesday.

The Philippines argued that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) requires signatory states to adopt measures to protect the marine environment. Both China and the Philippines were among the signatory states to the Unclos.

The Philippines said China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) has damaged coral reefs in contested waters there.

Experts estimate that such activities have damaged 311 hectares of coral reefs.

The country’s lawyers urged the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) to exercise its jurisdiction over the case, insisting that the case “does not constitute specific exemptions under the Unclos.”

China has refused to participate in the UN arbitration proceedings.

“For the continuation of the first round of arguments, the Philippines’ lawyers further explained to the Arbitral Tribunal how the case does not constitute specific exemptions under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which would preclude the tribunal from exercising jurisdiction over the case,” Valte said in a news bulletin issued also on Thursday.

The news bulletin said that “during the morning hearing, Philippe Sands briefly addressed questions propounded by a member of the tribunal from yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) hearing. Advocates Lawrence H. Martin, Bernard H. Oxman and Paul S. Reichler took turns presenting arguments involving various points on why the Philippines’ claims fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the tribunal.”

“For the afternoon hearing, Alan Boyle presented to the tribunal arguments regarding the strength of the Philippines’ environmental and fishing claims against China. Philippe Sands closed the first round of arguments by summarizing the submissions of the Philippines presented in the course of the hearings,” it added.

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