MANILA (UPDATED) - The Philippines urged China to respect and abide by the ruling of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the two countries' maritime dispute even if the decision is not enforceable.
"Walang enforcing power yung tribunal e. So anuman ang decision nila, legally binding nga both for the Philippines and China kasi pareho tayong signatories doon sa 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). Pero kung ang China naman, if they want to be seen as a responsible member ng international community, dapat din nilang respetuhin at saka sundin ang magiging desisyon ng tribunal," Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose said.
Jose said it would not do China any good if it would not respect the ruling of tribunal.
"Hindi magiging maganda para sa China na nag-decide na, for example, in our favor, na dinefine na nga ng tribunal kung ano ang maritime limits, jurisdiction ng bawat isa. For example, in-invalidate ng tribunal ang 9-dash line and then kung pagpipilitan pa ng China 'yun, so hindi maganda ang lalabas para sa kanila," he said.
Despite the dispute, the Philippines is seeking to expand other areas of its bilateral relations with China.
"Ang Philippines naman, we have been saying all along na itong West Philippine Sea is not the issue that defines our relationship with China. Multi-dimensional [at] multi-faceted ang relations natin with China. So dati nating sinasabi na we are willing to set aside 'yung dispute and we are willing to strengthen, expand, and develop 'yung other areas of cooperation natin with them. For example, sa areas ng trade and investment, tourism, education, and people-to-people exchanges," he said.
The tribunal has acknowledged the electronic copy of the memorial submitted by the Philippines, Jose said.
Del Rosiario: Judge by actions, not words
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, in a separate statement Friday, explained that the Philippines submitted its memorial to the arbitral tribunal to seek clarification of China's claim of indisputable sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea on the basis of their so-called "9-dash line."
He decribed Beijing's "9-dash line" as "an excessive and expansive claim."
"This is in gross violation of international law," he said.
"By going to arbitration, the Philippines has signaled its fidelity to international law. The Philippines, at this point, will not be able to reply to detailed questions regarding its submission to the Arbitral Tribunal since this matter is sub judice," he added.
"Nevertheless, the Philippines makes clear that it will continue to exercise self-restraint and will not raise tension in the South China Sea. The Philippines is not the country that has greatly increased its naval and maritime presence in the South China Sea. Nor has it challenged freedom of navigation. Nor has it blockaded nor forcefully intimidated any other country in the South China Sea," del Rosario said.
"Countries should be judged by their actions, not by their words," he said. "We reiterate that arbitration is a peaceful, friendly and a durable settlement mechanism under international law."
"With the submission of the Philippine Memorial and with the support of the Filipino people, we are defending what is legitimately and rightfully ours," del Rosario said.