MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario made an “impassioned plea” before a United Nations court to consider the arbitration case the Philippines lodged against China because of its impact to the whole world.
In a statement, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario made an impassioned plea for the Tribunal to recognize its jurisdiction due to the importance of the case not just to our country but to the entire world owing to its impact on the application of the Rule of Law in maritime disputes.”
The Philippine delegation began Tuesday its oral arguments on the court’s jurisdiction over the case.
After Solicitor General Florin Hilbay introduced the Philippines’ case, the other lawyers representing the country took over.
“Paul Reichler, Chief Counsel for the Philippines, presented the justification for the Tribunal’s jurisdiction over the Philippine claims under UNCLOS. Professor Philippe Sands followed Reichler’s presentation by stating that the Philippines did not raise questions of sovereignty over land or raise questions of maritime delimitation,” Valte said.
Valte is part of the high-level delegation from the Philippines, which is represented by all three branches of the government.
DFA spokesman Charles Jose said a “plan B” awaits in case the court will not take over the case.
The case is the first of its kind before a UN court considering the other party brought into the arbitration refused to participate.
Though China has declined to participate, the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is being closely watched by Asian governments and Washington, given rising regional tensions as Chinese naval power grows.
A panel of five judges will hear arguments this week and decide whether the treaty-based court has jurisdiction.
Manila filed suit at the court in 2013, seeking to enforce its right to exploit waters in a 200-nautical mile "exclusive economic zone" off its coast, as defined under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Philippines argues that the arbitration court is the correct venue for resolving disputes covered by the treaty, which both countries have signed.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China doesn't accept the court's jurisdiction and will not participate.
"China opposes any form of arbitration process proposed and promoted by the Philippines," Hua told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
In a position paper in December, China argued the dispute is not covered by the treaty because it is ultimately a matter of sovereignty, not exploitation rights.
China has laid a stake to nearly all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines and Vietnam, along with Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, claim overlapping parts of it. With Reuters
SFA Speech.statement Before the Permanent Court of Arbitration [as DELIVERED]