Philippines submits evidence vs China over territorial spat-A A +A
Monday, March 31, 2014
MANILA (Updated) - The Philippines submitted on Sunday a 4,000-page document to the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal containing the country’s arguments refuting China’s claim that it own parts of the West Philippine Sea.
“With firm conviction, the ultimate purpose of the Memorial is our national interest. It is about defending what is legitimately ours. It is about securing our children's future. It is about guaranteeing freedom of navigation for all nations. It is about helping to preserve regional peace, security and stability,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
The memorial has 10 volumes.
Volume I, which is 270 pages long, details the Philippines’ analysis of the applicable law and relevant evidence, demonstrates that the Arbitral Tribunal has jurisdiction over all of the claims made by the Philippines’ in its Statement of Claim and that every claim is meritorious.
It also sets out the specific relief sought by the Philippines with regard to each of its claims, and shows why it is entitled to such relief.
Volumes II through X, which consists of more than 3,700 pages, contain the documentary evidence and maps that support the Philippines’ claims.
China has warned against proceeding with the UN case, saying it will neither accept nor participate in the international arbitration that is “unilaterally initiated and pushed by the Philippines”.
“We hope that the Philippine side returns to the right track of resolving the dispute through negotiation and consultation as soon as possible, (and) stops going any further down the wrong track so as to avoid further damage to bilateral relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said.
Under arbitration procedures, del Rosario said the next step would be the filing of a counter-memorial by China.
But given China’s reluctance, del Rosario said the country will just wait for the guidance of the Arbitral Tribunal.
“It is currently unknown whether China will appear in the case, or whether it will continue its present policy of abstaining from the proceedings. Under the Rules of Procedure, the Arbitral Tribunal will decide on next steps and advice the parties,” said del Rosario.
It was last January 2013 when the Philippines brought its territorial dispute case against China at the UN tribunal as provided by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Since then, there have been several incidents involving China and Philippine coastal authorities, with the latest being the harassment of a civilian resupply ship from the Philippines by Chinese government vessels at the Ayungin Shoal on Saturday.
Philippine Marines deployed on the Philippine Navy ship LT 57 Sierra Madre practice the "relieving the watch" ceremony after the Philippine Government vessel AM700 successfully dockied beside it off Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, Saturday.(AP)
China must consider that a peaceful resolution of the conflict would be impossible without mutual respect, Vice President Jejomar Binay said.
“While we value our strong ties, this is not at the expense of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. I ask China to refrain from taking action that exacerbates the conflict,” he said, as he expected China to respect the proceedings and decision of The Hague-based tribunal on the case.
Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) put "serious doubts" on the sincerity of the Aquino administration in filing the case, saying the country is being used by the United States to confront China, an emerging global economic power.
"We believe national interest is not the real engine of this UN complaint, and what is in the core of this complaint is US sinister agenda in South China Sea that includes military hegemony, control of navigation and oil and gas resources," said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.
France said nothing will happen in the case since Beijing refuses the process and will not abide by the decision of the UN.
The militant group said a better option is to explore bilateral talks with Beijing.
China claims almost the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia and encroaches on the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of surrounding countries including the Philippines.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims over the territory, a major shipping lane which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and marine animals. (Virgil Lopez/HDT/Sunnex)