Manila on Wednesday insisted that its move to bring its complaint against China to international arbitration is already the “proper way” to settle the territorial dispute over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Commenting on a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement enjoining Manila to “come back to the right track” to address the dispute through bilateral talks, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Philippines believes that arbitration is the proper way to resolve the issue.
“The Philippines has presented its position before the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration, which we consider to be the proper forum for resolution of disputes,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
The Palace official pointed out that the Philippines prefers a “rules-based resolution of maritime entitlement issues” over bilateral talks.
“The Philippines affirms its adherence to international law,” Coloma said, referring to the principle of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Centrality and the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Based in The Netherlands, the tribunal last week held oral arguments on the case where the Philippine panel made a presentation meant to convince the five-member panel that it has jurisdiction over the arbitration case.
China refuses to participate in arbitration proceedings.
Manila is questioning China’s massive 9-dash claim over the South China Sea, anchoring its arguments on the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both countries had ratified.