THE government is confident that it will win its case against China before the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Sea (Itlos) as the Philippines prepares for another legal bout, this time touching on the merits of the case.
“Yes, we are confident that we can present a very good case before the arbitral tribunal, and we certainly hope that the jurors will see it our way,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Sunday.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was en route to The Hague in The Netherlands to join the team of lawyers who will defend the Philippine position against China’s nine-dash line principle in asserting its sovereignty over a number of shoals and islets in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea).
The tribunal unanimously decided it has the right to hear Manila’s historic case and assumed jurisdiction despite Beijing’s contrary position.
The international body effectively rejected China’s strongest argument that the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague has no right to hear the Philippines’ case.
This means the jurors can now proceed with hearing Manila’s arguments.
Lacierda said the Philippine lawyers are well prepared and are all confident that the country’s position will be given its due recognition.
“Our lawyers have prepared for this. We are now in the phase where we are going to discuss the merits of the petition itself. Our lawyers have studied it very thoroughly from all angles. We have anticipated all angles,” the Palace official said.
The tribunal has held that China’s decision not to participate in the proceedings does not deprive the tribunal of jurisdiction and that the Philippines’ decision to commence arbitration unilaterally was not an abuse of the Convention’s dispute settlement procedures.