MANILA, July 22, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - The verbal tussle between officials of the Philippines and China continues with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday urging the Asian giant to be a "responsible nation" in the West Philippine Sea dispute.

In a statement, DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said China has no choice but to follow the rule of law since the international arbitration for the case filed by the Philippines against China on the territorial dispute is now underway.

“To be accepted as a responsible nation, China has no choice. It must show to the international community its respect for the rule of law, including the mechanism of arbitration which is being pursued by the Philippines to clearly define respective maritime entitlements in the South China Sea," Hernandez said.

He also said China can end the ongoing sea dispute by "defining what the core issue is."

"China claims indisputable sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea through its nine-dash line claim, which is an excessive claim that is in gross violation of the international law,” he said.

Earlier this week, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying accused the Philippines of allegedly continuing "to play up the issue of the South China Sea, distort the facts and smear China."

Malacañang refused to comment on China's latest statement, but reasserted that the country has legal basis to bring its territorial case against China before the United Nations (UN) amid criticisms from the Asian giant.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda welcomed the decision of the UN arbitration tribunal to start hearing the case of the Philippines against China on the West Philippine Sea dispute.

"We have always maintained that we have legal basis to bring the case before the arbitral tribunal. Certainly, this is a step that we welcome and we hope that this will be resolved in an expeditious manner," Lacierda said at a televised press briefing on Thursday.

Part of the issues that are going to be handled by the arbitral tribunal will be on jurisdiction, according to the Palace official.

"Knowing that we filed it in the arbitral tribunal, we have already anticipated that the issue on jurisdiction will be raised. And, therefore, our lawyers, both the Solicitor General and the other lawyers involved, are fully cognizant of that particular issue," said Lacierda.

The Philippines decided to take the legal action against China after exhausting all other means to peacefully settle their disputes in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea which Beijing claims is part of its historical sovereign territory.

The country is seeking to stop Chinese incursions into its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and to invalidate China’s sweeping claim to the disputed waters.


‘GLOBAL PROTEST’ VS CHINA’S BULLYING SET By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Posted on Jul. 18, 2013 at 12:03am | 1,006 views

A “global protest” will be launched next week by a newly-formed coalition of government officials, leaders of political, civic and activist groups against China’s bullying tactics in the territorial dispute at the West Philippines Sea, organizers said on Wednesday.

Rafael Alunan, lead convenor of the West Philippine Sea Coalition, said the main rally will be at the Chinese Consulate in Makati on July 24 with similar protests actions in Chinese Consulates in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Saipan, Denver, Atlanta and major cities of London, Sydney, Copenhagen and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

“Stop China’s invasion of the Philippines. It will be the demand that will be heard in Chinese embassies all over the world,” the organizers said.

China have been asserting its claim over the West Philippines Sea by sending war ships and fishing vessels and building structures in the dispsuted area. It rejected a Philippine proposal to bring the issue to the United Nations International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea.

Beijing wanted bilateral negotiation as the way to settle the dispute. But its claim over the entire West Philippine Sea has been “rigid,” making negotiations impossible, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Former Congressman Roilo Golez, one of the main convenors, said he expected the leaders of Pangasinan, Zambales and Bataan to join the protest because “they are being prevented by the Chinese from fishing in their traditional fishing ground in the Bajo de Masinloc.”

“It should not only be the national government taking the initiative. People themselves should take the initiative of protecting national integrity,” Golez said.

Golez called on those who could not attend the rally to strengthen digital campaign against China and “inform the whole world about the bullying they are doing to us.”

Alunan, former executive secretary during the administration of former president Fidel Ramos, said the government should speed up modernizing its military capabilities and enhance the country’s capacity to protect its maritime rights.

“Nobody will protect our Exclusive Economic Zone. Whether or not we have a threat from China or other countries, we need to have credible posture to protect our economic assets,” Alunan said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez has said Chinese vessels have free access to the disputed area and they “come and go” within the 200-nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines.

Those who were expected to attend the rally in Makati were senators Grace Poe and Allan Peter Cayetano, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, and Gen. Danilo Lim of the Guardian Society.

In New York, the rally will be led by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, the Filipino American Legal Defense Fund, and members of the Vietnamese-American Community of New York.

Among the expected attendees were members of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue, the Knights of Rizal, the National Filipino Teachers Association, and the Philippine Nurses Association.

In San Francisco, the rally will be organized by members of the Vietnamese American Community, Vietnamese American Voters League, and Vietnamese-American Federation.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved