MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said the government is confident that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands will rule it has jurisdiction on Manila's case against Beijing regarding the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
"I don't see the arbitral tribunal not assuming jurisdiction. We're pretty confident because precisely we did this, we are doing this because we see this as a peaceful means of resolving the dispute," de Lima said in an interview on ANC's "Headstart."
"We cannot fight China head-on, militarily and economically and even politically. So this is the way to do it," she added.
The United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal has concluded the two-round hearings on jurisdiction and admissibility of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China's sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The first round of oral arguments, held from July 7 to 8, saw the Philippines explaining to the court why it should take jurisdiction over the case.
The second round, which ended on July 14, was held for the Philippines to address additional questions from the tribunal.
According to de Lima, who observed the proceedings in The Hague, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario delivered "very substantive and moving" opening remarks during the first round of oral arguments.
"It was really a good opening statement. A lot of quotables that international law is such a great equalizer between and among weak nations on one hand and strong nations on the other," she said of del Rosario's 20-minute remarks.
"And then those quotes about right prevailing over might, and principles trump over power," she added. "David versus Goliath."
The justice secretary described her experience there as "enriching, uplifting and once-in-a-lifetime."
"I learned a lot... It was really very educational for all of us just by listening," said de Lima.