The Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration has vowed to hand down a decision on whether it will assume jurisdiction on the Philippines’ case against China in the West Philippine Sea “as soon as possible,” saying a ruling is expected before the year ends.
In a statement on Monday, the tribunal said it has already entered the deliberations phase upon the conclusion of the oral arguments from July 7 to 13 in
which was attended by a powerhouse Philippine government delegation, backed by
its international lawyers and maritime law experts. The Hague
The tribunal “is conscious of its duty under the Rules of Procedure to conduct proceedings to avoid unnecessary delay and expense and to provide a fair and efficient process,” the statement said.
Should the court decide that it has jurisdiction over the case, it will then move on to the next phase, which is the hearing on the legal merits of the
The court also asked the
to submit “further
written responses” until July 23 to questions raised by the five-member
arbitration body. Philippines
A transcript of the entire proceedings was provided by the court to
China to ensure
transparency, even as it has declared several times that it does not accept ’s case. Manila
“Before making its award, the arbitral tribunal must satisfy itself not only that it has jurisdiction over the dispute but also that the claim is well founded in fact and in law,” the PCA said.
In line with its duty under Article 5 of Annex VII to the UNCLOS, the court said it must "assure each party a full opportunity to be heard and to present its case.”
The Philippines brought its maritime disputes with China before international arbitration in January 2013 following a dangerous maritime standoff in the Scarborough Shoal, which lies 124 nautical miles from the Philippine province of Masinloc, Zambales and 472 nautical miles from China’s nearest land mass of Hainan province.
Scarborough, seized by
after the standoff in 2012, is known in the Philippines
as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc, but called
by the Chinese. Huangyan Island
In April 2012,
Manila and were locked in a
standoff when Chinese vessels prevented Philippine authorities from arresting
Chinese fishermen poaching in the shoal, situated well within the Philippine
200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone as allowed by the UN treaty. Beijing
Even before the standoff, the
has repeatedly accused
of intruding into its territorial waters, disrupting its oil exploration and
harassing its fishermen. China