Arbitral tribunal's decision just a legal opinion: former DepEd usec

Reuters

Posted at Jul 14 2016 05:24 PM

A ship of the Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of the Vietnam Marine Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km off shore of Vietnam. Reuters

The so-called decision made by an ad hoc arbitral tribunal on Tuesday on the South China Sea arbitration was no more than a legal opinion by certain groups of people, said Antonio Valdes, former undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) of the Philippines, in a CCTV interview on Wednesday in Manila.

Valdes said the ''award'' just represents the opinions of one side, so it cannot be called as an award.

''My concern is that after this decision, the so-called decision, it is not a decision, at most, it is a legal opinion by certain groups of people, just an opinion. Why is it just an opinion, because it takes two parties to have a decision. But if one party did not participate and you only had one party, what kind of decision will you be making? There is not decision. And you have not been recognized by the other party to have jurisdiction over the issue which is correct,'' said Valdes.

He said the Philippines should negotiate with China on this issue.

''Arbitration is really useless, it's irrelevant. We should be negotiating with China before. But the (former) President Aquino is not the right thinking...he was not the right leader for us. So he insisted on the arbitration because he was following the U.S... because the U.S. promised him some two boats, two ships that are not really warships,'' said Valdes.

He said the court's assertion that Taiping Island is not an island is unfair.

Taiping Island is the largest of the naturally occurring Nansha Islands in the South China Sea.

''The Taiwanese had taken over a particular island, the biggest island of this Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands). And they had put airstrip there, they have a hospital, they have two or three other buildings there, that is their own water source. The court of arbitration clearly says that this is not an island. Are they blind? Are they stupid? Or is this just a political statement that is being made by the court of arbitration?'' he said.

Valdes said Japan always follows the U.S. out of its economic and military interests and so both of them are putting pressure on China.

''That the U.S. and Western press will use this to demonize China, make China look bad. That is the way of U.S. and the Western press, that is the way. Media is a weapon, they use media as a weapon to destroy the reputation of one people, one country and one leader. And then look for a justification so that they can attack that country,'' said Valdes.

''Japan being a dependent on the United States for its economy, for its military. (Japan) follows the United States, and the same thing with the Philippines. So you can expect that Japan will be following U.S. dictates,'' he said.