Arbitral ruling won't end PH-China dispute, says Roque

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2016 08:58 PM

Roque: PH may elevate case to UN General Assembly

MANILA - Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque sees no end to the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China.

Roque believes the Philippines can elevate the matter to the UN General Assembly.

Roque, a former professor of international law, said that the tribunal already set out limits to what it can judge.

"Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit yung PNoy administration, bagamat sang-ayon ako sa arbitration, itinigil yung pag-uusap habang nakabinbin ang arbitration. Kasi walang pinal na solusyon tayong aasahan sa arbitration na ito," he said.

"Kaya nga to manage people's expectation, itanim natin sa ating mga ulo, sa ating mga isipan, hindi po mareresolba ng arbitration ang pinagaagawang Spratly group of islands," he added.

He pointed out as a general rule, states cannot be sued without their consent. However, the UN Security Council can compel arbitration as a solution. 

Roque, however, admitted that China's veto as a permanent security council member stands in the way. "Well, we'll never win there because China has veto vote," he said.

Roque said diplomacy is still the way to do.

"Bagamat I don't see eye-to-eye with Duterte on everything, his strongest point is foreign policy, for me, on the West Philippine Sea, because there is still no alternative to diplomacy given that the tribunal on the law of the sea's jurisdiction is very limited to only issues of application and interpretation of UNCLOS and will never resolve the Spratlys dispute," he said.

"In terms of security threat, that's why the ruling on whether they are low tide elevations or islands or not is important to us, kasi a ruling that they are low tide elevations mean wala kayo karapatan maggawa ng base militar."

READ: Duterte to China: Let's talk

He emphasized that the reclamation of China is illegal. "Not a single country in this planet can claim the reclamations are legal. They will forever remain illegal," he said.

Asked if the US can help dismantle the Chinese bases, Roque said: "If that happens, there will be intense fighting, there will be all out war in our backyard."

He said the Philippines can elevate the matter to the UN General Assembly.

That's why for Roque, whoever the administration names to the UN mission is important.

"Kaya ang aking payo sa bagong gobyerno, magpadala ng magaling na ambassador sa UN na makakabuo ng consensus," he said.

He said regardless of the outcome, the executive must involve Congress. This, in reaction to Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay's position to share the exploration of the West Philippine Sea with China.

"The decision on whether or not sharing of resources is not an exclusive decision to be made by executive. That entails sharing of national territory. The executive cannot do it alone. Congress must concur either in the form of a treaty or a law," he said.

"Decision is not for him alone, not for President alone to make that decision," he added.

Roque urge the executive to immediately convene the National Security Council and the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).