MANILA — In order to win the case against China’s claim over the West Philippine Sea, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that the arbitral tribunal should affirm its jurisdiction over the case.
“If the tribunal says, yes, we have jurisdiction, then we’ve almost won. Because we can’t see how the tribunal will say that the nine-dash line claim is valid. So the impediment really is on the jurisdictional side,” Carpio said during the forum at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila on Thursday afternoon.
Carpio explained that the oral arguments in The Hague will talk about the procedural issues of the case.
He added that the Philippines should prove that the tribunal can rule on the case.
“If the tribunal says yes, we can rule on it, then we have a hearing on the merits of the case, and that will probably be in November. Then we can expect a decision on it on the first quarter, maybe March, next year,” Carpio said.
Carpio said that we can say that the Philippines “practically won” the case if the tribunal says that they have jurisdiction.
“No country has ever claimed an entire sea. China is the only one doing it,” he said. “If Unclos cannot be applied to the (West Philippine Sea), then it cannot be applied to others.”
“Everybody agrees that once the tribunal rules that they have jurisdiction, then we’ve practically won,” he added.
He also added that if the tribunal rules that they do not have jurisdiction on the case, then there will be no need to apply Unclos.
“If Unclos cannot be applied to the (West Philippine Sea), then it cannot be applied to others.”
“And if there is no Unclos here, then India can claim the Indian Ocean, Mexico will claim the Gulf of Mexico and then it’s the rule of the naval cannon. I don’t think that will happen,” he added. “This (campaign) isn’t only for us, it’s for everybody.”