Duterte admin urged to stand firm with West PH Sea award

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2020 03:55 PM | Updated as of Jul 13 2020 04:35 PM

The Philippines inaugurated a beaching ramp on Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea on June 9, 2020. Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A maritime expert on Monday urged the Duterte administration to maintain its stand of reaffirming the Philippines' arbitration victory against China 4 years ago which had been "long coming."

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Sunday said the tribunal's ruling in favor of Manila against Beijing's sweeping claims in the disputed waters was "non-negotiable."

Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, urged the administration to be consistent in its position and use it as a starting point in any dealings with China in the disputed waters.

“This has been long coming. Ang tagal na talaga nating hinihintay ito... Kahit na huli siya at least nandyan na. Sana mula ngayon talagang panindigan talaga natin itong sinabi natin ngayon. Hindi pwedeng pabalik-balik tayo, para tayong pendulum, para tayong swing, urong-sulong," he told ABS-CBN News.

(We had long waited for this. Even if it's late, at least it's here. I hope from now on, we stick to our current stand. We cannot go back on our word like a pendulum.)

“Patuloy siyang binabalewala ng Tsina, malinaw iyon,” Batongbacal said of the arbitral award.

(China continues to ignore the arbitration victory.)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday said the arbitral award represents “a victory, not just for the Philippines, but for the entire community of consistently law-abiding nations.”

"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,” he said in a statement.

"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."

Vietnam last month released its statement as chairman of the 36th ASEAN Summit and said the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) "sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.”

China has ignored the arbitral award and most recently established administrative districts in the South China Sea covering the Paracels and Spratlys as part of Sansha City of Hainan province.

Manila in April filed diplomatic protests against this, saying declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province violated international law and Philippine sovereignty.

The country also protested the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters.

It objected to China’s naming of some features in the the Kalayaan Island Group, saying the Philippines does not recognize them.

The DFA invoked the arbitral win of the Philippines, saying it “has comprehensively addressed China’s excessive claims and illegal actions in the South China Sea.”

Chinese marine scientific research activities also reportedly conducted activities recently in Philippine waters without necessary clearances.