Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. Reuters photo
MANILA - (UPDATED) The Permanent Court of Arbitration said on Thursday it has jurisdiction to hear the case that the Philippines filed against China over disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea.
In its 151-page decision, the arbitration court found that it has jurisdiction to hear several of the Philippines' submissions in the West Philippine Sea row.
A statement issued by the Hague-based tribunal said additional hearings would be held to decide the merits of the Philippines' arguments.
In the case filed before the arbitral tribunal, the Philippines did not argue the issue of who owns the contested islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Instead, the Philippines has asked the arbitral tribunal to declare the features in the disputed sea as "rocks" and not islands.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), to which the Philippines and China are both signatories, rocks do not generate maritime entitlement beyond 12 miles.
Manila said that a portion of the maritime territory being claimed by China sits within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
"We’re not asking the court to say who owns Panatag shoal. We are arguing that they are within our EEZ and therefore under the rules of UNCLOS, we have exclusive rights to fish within that area,” former Solicitor General and incumbent Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza said in a previous interview.
Territorial claims are the jurisdiction of another body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the ICJ only entertains cases if all parties in the dispute participate. China has refused to do so.
Oral arguments for the case were held in July.
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. - with a report from Reuters