MANILA - The Philippines’ arbitration victory against China is “non-negotiable”, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday on the 4th anniversary of the verdict.
On July 12 four years ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines' arguments for maritime entitlements over the West Philippine Sea, rejecting China's claims in the resource-rich area.
The DFA said the arbitration case “is a contribution of great significance and consequence to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea and to the peace and stability of the region at large.”
“The Tribunal authoritatively ruled that China’s claim of historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a statement.
The DFA also noted that the Tribunal ruled that the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone were violated by the construction of artificial islands and large-scale reclamation. The large-scale harvesting of endangered marine species also damaged the area’s marine ecosystem, it said.
“Compliance in good faith with the award would be consistent with the obligations of the Philippines and China under international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to which both parties are signatories,” Locsin said.
He said the Philippines, as a law-abiding, peace-loving and responsible member of the international community, reaffirms its adherence to the award and its enforcement without any possibility of compromise or change.
“The award is non-negotiable,” Locsin added.
China however has rejected the arbitral win, with no less than Chinese President Xi Jinping telling President Rodrigo Duterte this ruling during their bilateral meeting in Beijing last year.
China has instead ramped up its militarization efforts in the vital waterway.
Last April, the DFA filed a diplomatic protest against China after a Chinese warship pointed a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in the West Philippine Sea.
In June last year, a Chinese vessel collided with a Filipino fishing boat and sank it, and then left the boat’s crew floating in the middle of the sea.
Meanwhile former Foreign Affairs chief Albert del Rosario said Duterte can still raise the country’s arbitral win “before the world.”
“In the remaining years of his term, we believe that our president still has the opportunity to fulfill his promise to the Filipino people to raise the Award: this time, not before the Chinese President, but before the world.” Del Rosario said in a text message.
Last May, Indonesia cited the Philippines’ arbitral win in its own sea dispute with China.
“Indonesia reiterates that the Nine-Dash line map implying historic rights claim clearly lacks international legal basis and is tantamount to upset UNCLOS 1982,” said Indonesia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in the letter delivered on May 26.
China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea has brought it into dispute with the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.