THE international tribunal may hand down its verdict on the complaint filed by the Philippines against China next month, the country’s Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. said.
By the reckoning of Philippine lawyers, the Permanent Arbitration Court (PCA) in The Hague, The Netherlands will hand down its decision in May or June.
Cuisia said the tribunal usually issues its decision six months after the last hearing.
The final round of the hearing on the merits of the case was held from November 24 to 30 last year.
“We are hoping either May or June, according to our lawyers who are, of course, more experienced because they have handled similar disputes, similar cases,” Cuisia said.
“That’s what they told us so we are relying on them because this is the first time that we’ve gone to the Tribunal.”
The Philippines filed a memorial against China in 2013 after Chinese ships refused to withdraw from a shoal found within the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone.
The government argued that China’s claims over almost the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) should be declared invalid because these are contrary to the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
China refused to take part in the court proceedings.
“The Philippines looks forward to the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal on our legal challenge to China’s so-called nine-dash line claim over nearly the entire South China Sea.
We have said it before and we say it again: the nine-dash line claim is expansive, excessive and in gross violation of international law. There is not one country in the world, besides China, that accepts the nine-dash line claim as valid,” Cuisia said.
Reacting to reports that China will create its own settlement body, the ambassador said Beijing can do what it wants but Manila will only recognize the United Nations-backed tribunal.
“They can create their own court but it doesn’t mean that we will be bound by whatever that court decides,” he said. “We are looking to the international Tribunal which is the Tribunal that is set up in The Hague, set up under Unclos and that is the one that really governs the international law in this law of the seas.”
He said China is a member of Unclos and it should live up to its obligations under the convention.