GOVERNMENT lawyers are now preparing for the presentation of the
before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The
Hague after the latter ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear and
resolve the Philippines’s
complaint against China’s
incursions in the disputed West Philippine Sea ( South
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, a member of the Philippine legal team who presented the position of the country that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the case, welcomed the decision as it would pave the way for the presentation of the merits of the Philippine’s substantive claims.
“The decision represents a significant step forward in the
quest for a peaceful, impartial resolution of the disputes between the parties
and the clarification of their rights under Unclos [United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea],” Hilbay said in a text message to reporters. Philippines
brought its case before the arbitral tribunal in January 2013, challenging the
legality of China’s
nine-dash line claim over the entire South China Sea,
which overlaps in the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
Hilbay disclosed that the tentative schedule for the presentation of merits is from November 24 to 30.
After presentation on the merits, the court is expected to rule on the merits next year.
On Thursday the PCA unanimously ruled that it has “jurisdiction” to hear the matters raised in seven of the
The court, however, stressed that the ruling does not decide any aspect of the merits of the parties’ dispute.
“In light of the foregoing, the tribunal has concluded that it is presently able to decide that it does have jurisdiction. The tribunal has concluded, however, that its jurisdiction with respect to seven other submissions by the
will need to be considered in conjunction with the merits. The tribunal has
requested the Philippines
to clarify and narrow one of its submissions,” the tribunal, led by Judge
Thomas A. Mensah, said in a statement. Philippines
Although the hearing on the merits of the
case will not be open to the public, the tribunal said that it
will consider written requests from interested states to send delegations
to attend the hearing as observers. Philippines
The court said, “States which sent observers to the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility, namely,
the Republic of Indonesia,
the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Kingdom
of Thailand and , will be
informed of the hearing dates.” Japan
The UN-backed arbitration court, in deciding to proceed the hearing of the case, threw out
argument that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case for the reason
that the dispute was actually about the sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea.
They also did not give credence to
China’s assertion that the case filed by the
concerns the delimitation of a maritime boundary between the two countries. Philippines