The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is confident that it will be able to submit its arguments before the March 30 deadline to the United Nations-backed International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (Itlos) regarding its disputes with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In an interview, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Philippines was given on or before March 30 to submit its Memorial, which will contain the legal basis of its arbitration case against China, to the five-member arbitral tribunal in The Hague.
The Memorial is being prepared by the Philippines’ legal team, headed by Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza.
After its submission in March of the Memorial, the department is “open to future instructions coming from the arbitral tribunal” regarding its next move.
The department expects the tribunal to decide on the jurisdiction and merits of the case, especially on why Manila wants the nine-dash line claim by Beijing invalidated and declared illegal as far as international law, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), is concerned.
The Philippines invited China to join the arbitral proceedings on January 22 last year. The arbitration case was filed to clearly delineate the extent of China’s and the Philippines’ claims in the disputed region.
Manila wants the five-member tribunal to invalidate Beijing’s “encompassing” nine-dash line claim, which covers 90 percent of the entire region, extending as far as the coastal provinces of the other claimant-countries.
The resource-rich West Philippine Sea, which is believed to sit atop oil and natural reserves, is being claimed in whole by China, and in part by the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
China rejected on February 19 last year the invitation to join the Philippines in the arbitration case, maintaining that only bilateral negotiation case resolve the decades-old dispute. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON