THE HAGUE, Netherlands - A Philippine delegation composed of ambassadors, lawyers, expert witnesses, advocates and support staff has arrived in The Hague, Netherlands for the oral arguments on Manila's arbitration case against China.
A bulletin from Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the 48-man Philippine delegation is in The Hague for the first round of arguments on the merits of the Philippine case before the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
"The hearings are expected to begin on November 24 and last until November 30, 2015," she said.
Valte said Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and principal counsel Paul Reichler briefed the Philippine delegation on the expected flow of the proceedings for the hearing days.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario is leading the delegation, which is composed of representatives from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government.
The official delegation includes Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice and former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, Representative Rodolfo Biazon, Chair of the Committee of National Defense and Security of the House of Representatives, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Political Affairs Secretary Ronald Llamas, Security Cluster Executive Director Emmanuel Bautista, and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
The entire delegation is comprised of 48 individuals, including six Philippine ambassadors from different posts in Europe, counsel, advocates, expert witnesses, and support staff.
Of the 48, only 17 are from the home offices of the different departments in Manila.
The Philippine embassy at The Hague, headed by Ambassador Jaime Victor Ledda, is providing support and assistance to the delegation.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration last month ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case filed by the Philippines against China over the disputed West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines filed the case in 2013 to seek a ruling on its right to exploit the West Philippine Sea waters in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as allowed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The arbitration court rejected China's claim that the disputes were about territorial sovereignty.
China has boycotted the proceedings and rejects the court's authority in the case. Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire sea, dismissing claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
READ: China repeats will not accept South China Sea arbitration case
The tribunal said it has the authority to hear seven of Manila's submissions under UNCLOS, and Beijing's decision not to participate did "not deprive the tribunal of jurisdiction". -- With Reuters