MANILA—The Philippines has delivered yesterday its final arguments on the disputed West Philippine Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
The country is entrusting its fate to the arbitration court that upholds the rule of law, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told the tribunal.
“We confidently entrust our fate, the fate of the region and, indeed, the fate of the Convention to you,” del Rosario was quoted as saying in a Philippine Star report.
The country branded China’s claim to the West Philippine Sea as “quaint aspiration of a time now past.” China has earlier claimed sovereignty of the West Philippine Sea in the grounds of “historical fact” and its nine-dash line imposed on the disputed sea. Aside from the Philippines, other Southeast Asian countries have appealed China’s claim.
Del Rosario told the tribunal that it must decide on the case using the United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) alone, or else, the decision “would leave the Philippines, and its ASEAN neighbors, in worse straits than when we embarked on this arbitral voyage.”
“That said, your mandate to achieve justice is not carried out in a vacuum. Judges and arbitrators are not expected to be oblivious to the realities on the ground,” Del Rosario added in the same report
Del Rosario also said that if the tribunal would favor China, it would convert its nine-dash line into a “Berlin Wall of the Sea”, a ““giant fence, owned by, and excluding everyone but, China itself.”
He also stressed the objective UNCLOS; to maintain and strengthen international peace and security.
“Nothing would contribute more to these objectives than the tribunal’s finding that China’s rights and obligations are neither more nor less than those established by UNCLOS,” del Rosario said the same report.