25 November 2015

Philippines begins presentation of arguments on case against China
The Philippines on Tuesday began its presentation of arguments on the case against China over disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) during the first day of hearings at the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.

In a bulletin issued by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Wednesday, she said the proceedings before the Arbitral Tribunal opened, with Solicitor General Florin Hilbay taking the floor to present to the Tribunal the sequence of arguments to be presented during the course of the First Round of Arguments.

The Palace official said “the thrust of the presentation of the Philippine side today (Tuesday) focused on the lack of basis for China’s historic claims over the Nine-Dash Line”.

“Principal Counsel Paul Reichler discussed the nature of China’s historic rights claim and how these purported historic rights, supposedly derived under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in fact do not exist under the provisions of the convention,” she said.

Valte said Reichler mentioned that China has asserted exclusive rights over the areas covered by the Nine-Dash Line and has deprived the Philippines of fishing and exploration activities.

Professor Bernard Oxman tackled the lawfulness of China’s claim to the South China Sea beyond its maritime entitlements under the UNCLOS and how it encroaches on the rights of coastal states like the Philippines, she added.

Andrew Loewenstein argued that even assuming, for the sake of argument, that a claim of historic rights can exist after the UNCLOS, China has failed to satisfy the requirements to establish the claim, namely: a continuous exercise of exclusive control for a long period of time over the area, Valte further said.

She said Loewenstein presented eight maps, the first of which dates back to the Ming Dynasty, to show that China’s territory did not include that which it claims now under the Nine-Dash Line.

The Palace official said the second day of the hearings is scheduled on November 25.

The Philippine delegation to The Hague, headed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, is composed of representatives from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.

The official delegation includes Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio; Associate Justice and former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza; Representative Rodolfo Biazon, Chair of the Committee of National Defense and Security of the House of Representatives; Political Affairs Secretary Ronald Llamas; Security Cluster Executive Director Emmanuel Bautista; and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra. PND (jm)