Philippines rejects efforts to undermine arbitral ruling on South China Sea

The country’s top diplomat issued the remark as the Philippines marks the sixth anniversary of the historic decision of the arbitration court based in The Hague.

Daniza Fernandez

Daniza Fernandez

Philippine Daily Inquirer


Map showing the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, including the Spratlys Islands and Scarborough Shoal. AFP FILE

July 13, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is rejecting any attempts to weaken the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration which invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday.

The country’s top diplomat issued the remark as the country marks the sixth anniversary of the historic decision of the arbitration court based in The Hague, Netherlands, that favored the Philippines’ case against China’s overlapping claims in the South China Sea where the world’s strategic and most important navigation lanes are found.

“It affirmed that certain actions within the Philippines’ EEZ (exclusive economic zone) violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and were thus unlawful; that large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands caused severe environmental harm in violation of international conventions; that the large-scale harvesting of endangered marine species damaged the marine ecosystem; and that actions taken since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the disputes,” Manalo said in a statement, noting that the arbitral award upheld the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its EEZ.

“These findings are no longer within the reach of denial and rebuttal and are conclusive as they are indisputable. The Award is final. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from the law, history, and our collective memories. At the same time, we welcome the support of a growing list of countries for the Award,” he added.

According to Manalo, the PCA ruling and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are the anchors of the country’s policy and actions on the West Philippine Sea.

UNCLOS lays out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas should be executed.

“The Award, an affirmation of UNCLOS’ dispute resolution mechanisms, not only sets reason and right in the South China Sea, but is an inspiration for how matters should be considered – through reason and right – by states facing similarly challenging circumstances,” Manalo said.

“It authoritatively ruled that the claim of historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law and is without legal effect,” he continued.

The DFA chief likewise stressed that the ruling benefits the world and not only a certain nation.

“We see it as it should be seen: as favoring all which are similarly situated by clarifying definitively a legal situation beyond the reach of arms to change. It puts this aspect of international law beyond the limit of prescription,” he said.

“And so we say once again: the present that we need and the future that we want is a peaceful South China Sea. The Philippines is committed to this for as long as it exists,” Manalo further said.

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