PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

CHINA TO SNUB TRIBUNAL ARBITRATION HEARING ON FEUD WITH PHL
[BEIJING: "Our position is consistent. We'll not accept nor participate in the arbitration," Zhao said. "Our door for bilateral consultation and negotiation is still open and will be open forever."]


JULY 6 ---Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua China is standing pat on its decision to reject arbitration by an international tribunal that will begin formal hearings this week to resolve a long-seething feud with the Philippines over the South China Sea, Beijing's ambassador to Manila said Monday. The five-member tribunal starts hearings in The Hague on Tuesday to address China's contention that the arbitration body does not have authority to assume jurisdiction over Manila's complaint against Beijing. A high-level delegation that includes the Philippines' solicitor-general and the heads of the foreign, defense and justice departments, along with Washington-based lawyers hired by Manila, have flown to The Hague to argue the Philippines' case. The dayslong hearings are crucial because the Philippines' complaint against China could no longer be heard if the tribunal declares it has no jurisdiction over the case. Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua told reporters in Manila that his government would stick to its decision not to participate in the arbitration and instead renewed China's offer to resolve the conflict through one-on-one negotiations with the Philippines. READ MORE...

ALSO: China to Philippines: Let’s sit down and talk


JULY 7 ---Antonio Santos, director of the National Library, receives books donated by Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at his official residence in Dasmariñas Village, Makati City yesterday. JOVEN CAGANDE 
MANILA, Philippines - China is “still open and will be open forever” to bilateral negotiations to settle its territorial spat with the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said yesterday.
Zhao’s pronouncements came a day before a United Nations tribunal proceeds to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a case filed by Manila contesting Beijing’s massive claim in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. A high level Philippine delegation is now in The Hague to present the country’s position. “I think the best is to sit down bilaterally to talk. We need to resume our bilateral negotiation without any condition. I think this is the best way that we can discuss how to peacefully settle these disputes,” Zhao told journalists at his official residence after the Chinese government donated books to the National Library of the Philippines, gmanetwork.com reported. The Permanent Court of Arbitration, a five-man panel of judges, will start hearing oral arguments on the issue of jurisdiction until July 13. “Our door for bilateral consultation and negotiation is still open and will be open forever,” Zhao said. READ MORE...

PHILIPPINES REJECTS BILATERAL TALKS WITH CHINA ANEW


JULY 8 ---Latest satellite imagery from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative website shows the reclamation and construction work by China on Zamora (Subi) Reef. Image taken last June shows the inner harbor being transited by dozens of support craft with active dredgers. Construction is ongoing with two cement plants being built along the seawalls. Inset shows a map using data provided by UNCLOS and the CIA to compare China’s nine-dash-line claimed territory and its neighbors’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones.
Malacañang yesterday rejected China’s renewed offer of bilateral talks to settle the West Philippine Sea dispute, saying only by engaging other members of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) can any negotiation on the issue be acceptable. “The Philippine position is clear: the principle of ASEAN centrality should be recognized in accordance with the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC),” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters in a news briefing. He was reacting to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua’s pronouncement on Monday that his country is “still open and will be open forever” to bilateral negotiations to settle its territorial spat with the Philippines. The Chinese ambassador’s statement came a day before the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration was to determine in a hearing whether it has jurisdiction over Manila’s case contesting Beijing’s nine-dash-line claim. Hearings on the issue will be held until July 13. READ MORE...

ALSO: China unyielding as RP argues case before UN
[BEIJING: TRIBUNAL HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER DISPUTE]


JULY 9 ---PHILIPPINE CONTIGENT TO THE HAGUE HEARING PHILSTAR FILE The Philippines has appealed to an international tribunal to declare China’s claims to most of the South China Sea illegal, warning the integrity of United Nations’ (UN) maritime laws is at stake, an argument which only hardened China’s position to reject the proceeding. In opening comments to the tribunal in The Hague yesterday, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the country has sought judicial intervention because China’s behavior had become increasingly “aggressive” and nego-tiations had proved futile.
China up to the other day, however, was offering the holding of bilateral negotiations to settle the dispute. Prior to Philippines’ filing of the case with the arbitral body, detente was observed over the disputed territories in South China Sea. Lately, however, China had started reclaiming land over some of the disputed areas which were believed to have been triggered by the UN arbitration case that it refused to recognize. Del Rosario said the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS), which the Philippines and China have both ratified, should be used to resolve their bitter territorial dispute. “The case before you is of the utmost importance to the Philippines, to the region, and to the world,” del Rosario told the tribunal. READ MORE...

ALSO 2nd round: Tribunal to hear new arguments


JULY 11 ---THE Philippine legal team will present a second round of oral arguments in The Hague after the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal decided to ask more questions on the Philippines’ petition against China over their maritime dispute in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday.
The agency said the UN Arbitral Tribunal will again convene to deliberate on the presentation of the Philippines in the case it filed against China over the disputed territories, and to decide if it has jurisdiction over it. “The Arbitral Tribunal will be convening today [Friday] to deliberate on the presentations made by the Philippines on its claims against China,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters. “In the past two days, the Philippines presented its arguments to prove that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the matter and that there is no bar to the exercise of its jurisdiction,” Valte said. “The Philippines will await word if it will be propounded additional questions by the members of the tribunal and if a Second Round of Arguments on Hearing and Admissibility will be required. If so, then it will be held on July 13, 2015.”  Valte is part of the Philippine delegation to the arbitration proceedings, where China has refused to participate. The Philippines has told the Arbitral Tribunal that China’s expansive claim over the disputed waters threatens the law of the sea and endangers small countries like the Philippines. But Foreign Affairs refused to comment further on what will be the Philippines’ next move should the tribunal decide it has no jurisdiction on the dispute. READ MORE...

ALSO: Philippines ready for 2nd round; Phl panel set to answer tribunal’s questions


JULY 12 --PHILIPPINE LEGAL TEAM
The Philippisne legal team in The Hague is ready for clarificatory questions from the arbitral tribunal, which has set another round of oral arguments for tomorrow to determine if it has jurisdiction over the maritime case filed by Manila against China, Malacañang said yesterday. “They do this (questioning) to seek some clarifications. Our panel is prepared to answer questions,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in Filipino over state-run dzRB. “According to our international law expert – law of the sea expert – this is normally done if there are little clarifications that should be asked again. So our panel is ready to answer the questions…we don’t expect anything (adversarial),” he said. Lacierda said the process is no different from hearings conducted in regular courts. “Our panel is really ready. We prepared for this petition for one year, so our lawyers are ready, including Solicitor General Florin Hilbay,” he said. “We are hoping for a favorable ruling. In any case, rest assured that the government will continue to act in the country’s best interest and in accordance with international law,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO:
Lacierda defends hiring int'l lawyers in arbitration case vs China


JULY 8 ---Lacierda 
Malacañang on Wednesday defended the government's decision to hire international lawyers for its arbitration case against China. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the foreign lawyers tapped by the Philippines were hired based on their competence, expertise and field of knowledge. "These are lawyers with international reputation on appealing before the international tribunal, so we can rely on them. They have been with us since we filed the petition before the ITLOS (International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea)," Lacierda said in a press briefing. When asked if the government did not find local lawyers who are as competent as their foreign counterparts, Lacierda said Filipino counsels still do not have the same amount of experience in international arbitration. "We have the knowledge, but insofar as appearing before the international tribunal… You know, you get the best persons that you can hire for that," Lacierda said. "It will be foolhardy for us not to hire experts on appearing—those who have experience appearing before those tribunals. So, we are putting our best foot forward, both international and domestic," he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Hague contingent sparks word war between Roque, Lacierda
[Roque noted that the bunk of money spent for the delegation may have went way better going to help fisherfolks from Zambales displaced by the Chinese takeover of the Panatag shoal.]


JULY 9 ---Left: Intl' lawyer and UNA senatorial aspirant Roque; Right: Palace spokesman and lawyer Lacierda A vicious spat has started not between China and the Philippines but between a Palace mouthpiece and international law expert Harry Roque regarding the government’s representation in the ongoing territorial dispute arbitration at The Hague. Roque questioned the government’s hiring of international lawyers to defend the country’s claims in South China Sea friction before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLoS) at The Netherlands and the huge Philippine delegation composed of 35 personalities for which public funds were spent. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda took a jab at Roque and called him an attention seeker (KSP), then added yesterday that the lawyer was politically motivated in issuing his criticisms.
Roque said that he is gunning for a senatorial slot under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in next year’s elections. “Anything that he says right now should be deemed with political undertones. The efforts of a united government should not be reduced to counting the costs since at stake is what the country fights for. I think that spells out the position of the Philippines here,” he said. Roque in a statement shot back saying that what Lacierda should present in detail is how much the Palace is spending on a delegation of 35 people at the Hague in the Netherlands for the oral arguments in the Philippine arbitral case against China over the West Philippine Sea. “Calling me KSP or Kulang sa Pansin (attention seeker) simply avoids the issue altogether. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

China to snub arbitration hearing on feud with Philippines PHILSTAR (AP) ULY 6, 2015


Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua

MANILA, JULY 13, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Jim Gomez (Associated Press) — China is standing pat on its decision to reject arbitration by an international tribunal that will begin formal hearings this week to resolve a long-seething feud with the Philippines over the South China Sea, Beijing's ambassador to Manila said Monday.

The five-member tribunal starts hearings in The Hague on Tuesday to address China's contention that the arbitration body does not have authority to assume jurisdiction over Manila's complaint against Beijing.

A high-level delegation that includes the Philippines' solicitor-general and the heads of the foreign, defense and justice departments, along with Washington-based lawyers hired by Manila, have flown to The Hague to argue the Philippines' case.

The dayslong hearings are crucial because the Philippines' complaint against China could no longer be heard if the tribunal declares it has no jurisdiction over the case.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua told reporters in Manila that his government would stick to its decision not to participate in the arbitration and instead renewed China's offer to resolve the conflict through one-on-one negotiations with the Philippines.

"Our position is consistent. We'll not accept nor participate in the arbitration," Zhao said. "Our door for bilateral consultation and negotiation is still open and will be open forever."

READ MORE...

Responding to a question from a reporter, Zhao reiterated that China would never start a war with the Philippines over the long-contested territories. "I cannot imagine that China would wage a war against the Philippines over what is happening in the South China Sea. It is not China's policy and will not be China's policy," he said.

The Philippines brought its disagreements with China to international arbitration in January 2013, a year after Chinese coast guard ships took effective control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal following a tense standoff with Filipino ships. Manila's bold move has angered Beijing and strained relations.

Chinese coast guard ships have since been driving away Filipino and other fishermen from the shoal, at times using water cannons in actions that the Philippine government has condemned and protested, Filipino officials said.

In its complaint, the Philippines asked the tribunal to declare China's so-called "nine-dash line" territorial claim over much of the South China Sea invalid under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Philippine government has also asked the tribunal to declare the extent of territorial waters that can be accorded to at least eight islands, reefs and atolls under Chinese control in the disputed territory in a bid to limit Beijing's reach in scattered areas of it.

Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have territorial claims in the busy waters, which are among the world's busiest. Tensions flared in recent months after the Philippines and other claimant countries discovered that China had undertaken massive island-building in seven reefs and atolls in a disputed region called the Spratlys.

Washington and several other governments have expressed alarm and asked Beijing to stop the massive off-shore construction. But China has argued that it has a right to undertake any activity in territories it says it has owned since ancient times, adding that the artificial islands would benefit fishermen but would also be used for China's defense.

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RELATED

PHILSTAR

Rival claimants sit as observers in sea row hearings By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated July 9, 2015 - 3:22pm 3 11 googleplus0 0


Members of the Philippine delegation and the foreign lawyers hired by the government wait for the hearing to begin.
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay introduced the Philippines' case and presented the order of speakers for the session from 2:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m., Manila time) to 5:30 p.m. Paul Reichler, lead counsel for the Philippines, presented the justification for the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction over the Philippine claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Professor Philippe Sands, who is also representing the Philippines, followed Reichler’s presentation by stating that the country did not raise questions of sovereignty over land or raise questions of maritime delimitation. The first round of the Philippines's arguments will continue today from 10 a.m. (4 p.m., Manila time) to 1 p.m. for the morning session. The afternoon hearing will be from 2:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m., Manila time) to 5:30 p.m. In its complaint, the Philippines asked the tribunal to declare China's so-called "nine-dash line" territorial claim over much of the South China Sea invalid under the UNCLOS.

The United Nations arbitral tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration permitted a few countries to send small delegations to the formal hearings on the South China Sea dispute as observers.

The arbitrary tribunal initially decided not to open the hearing to the public but changed its decision after receiving written requests from interested states.

"Having sought the views of the Parties, the Arbitral Tribunal has permitted the Governments Malaysia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the Kingdom of Thailand and Japan, to send small delegations as observers," the tribunal said in a statement.

The countries allowed to observe in the proceedings also have overlapping claims on parts of the East China and South China Seas

The formal hearings on the South China Sea dispute started last Tuesday in the Peace Palace, the headquarters of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The Philippines sent a delegation of representatives from all three branches of government to present its arguments for the country's position against China's nine-dash line claim.

READ MORE...

However, China reiterated that it will not participate in the said arbitration filed by the Philippines, asking the tribunal to invalidate the former's territorial claim over the disputed South China Sea.

China once again offered to open bilateral negotiations with the Philippines but the latter refused, citing that any negotiation on the issue will only be acceptable if other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be involved.

The arbitral tribunal maintained that it remains open to China to participate in the said proceedings.

RELATED:

Philippines tells tribunal: South China Sea case has world impact

Day 2 at The Hague: Philippines presents environmental, fishing claims vs China


PHILSTAR

China to Philippines: Let’s sit down and talk By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 7, 2015 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


Antonio Santos, director of the National Library, receives books donated by Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at his official residence in Dasmariñas Village, Makati City yesterday. JOVEN CAGANDE

MANILA, Philippines - China is “still open and will be open forever” to bilateral negotiations to settle its territorial spat with the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said yesterday.

Zhao’s pronouncements came a day before a United Nations tribunal proceeds to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a case filed by Manila contesting Beijing’s massive claim in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

A high level Philippine delegation is now in The Hague to present the country’s position.

“I think the best is to sit down bilaterally to talk. We need to resume our bilateral negotiation without any condition. I think this is the best way that we can discuss how to peacefully settle these disputes,” Zhao told journalists at his official residence after the Chinese government donated books to the National Library of the Philippines, gmanetwork.com reported.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, a five-man panel of judges, will start hearing oral arguments on the issue of jurisdiction until July 13.

“Our door for bilateral consultation and negotiation is still open and will be open forever,” Zhao said.

READ MORE...

The Philippine team is represented by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and will be assisted by Paul Reichler of the Washington-based law firm Foley and Hoag.

Also attending the proceedings – aside from Hilbay – are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Supreme Court Justices Antonio Carpio and Francis Jardeleza, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and retired Armed Forces chief of staff and now undersecretary for security cluster Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

Zhao brushed off criticisms that China is militarizing the waters with its ongoing construction of what appeared to be military installations on reclaimed islands.

“What I would like to emphasize is that we do not wish to define these disputes as military issues because they are political and diplomatic issues and they require political and diplomatic solution,” he said. “China has never regarded the dispute as a military dispute.”

The ambassador also maintained that China would never wage a war against the Philippines, saying “it is not China’s policy and will not be China’s policy” to resort to aggression to achieve its goal.

“Peaceful means, bilateral talks,” he pointed out.

Ready

Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippines is ready for the start of proceedings at The Hague.

“We can’t talk much about it, but we are prepared for it,” Jose told reporters yesterday.

In a position paper submitted last December, China questioned the jurisdiction of the international arbitral court over the case. The Permanent Court of Arbitration and not the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea is handling the case.

With Beijing’s refusal to take part in the proceedings, automatic arbitration has to be resorted to as required by rules.


The Philippine delegation: From left: Drilon, Carpio, Belmonte; 2nd row: Bautista, De Lima, and DFA Sec Del Rosario.

The DFA said the Philippines would stick closely to facts in presenting its case against China.

“We try to make it as factual as possible on the way we see things, the objective of that is to raise awareness of our people on this very important issue,” Jose said.

“If we get a favorable ruling from tribunal, to us it is a fundamental first step towards a peaceful and rules-based approach towards resolving the overlapping maritime claims in the South China Sea,” he added.

Jose admitted that the DFA is not yet aware of the procedures of the hearing, although it does not expect China to make a presentation.

“Based on the position paper China submitted last December, it is questioning the jurisdiction of the arbitration tribunal over the case. Based on those points, China does not want to participate,” Jose explained.

China has repeatedly criticized the Philippines for initiating international arbitration instead of holding bilateral talks to resolve the territorial dispute.

On Thursday last week, China called the case filed by the Philippines a “political provocation,” a claim denied by Malacañang.

The DFA noted it was the Philippines that first initiated bilateral talks with China to resolve the issue, to no avail.

“We already tried to pursue bilateral talks way back in 1995 concerning the Mischief Reef. We tried to sit down with them. We exhausted all reasonable efforts to solve the issue,” Jose stressed.

He also lamented that China was always setting impossible conditions for bilateral talks, and “they always say we have to recognize their indisputable sovereignty” over the disputed areas.

The DFA noted that the territorial dispute has to be settled by the six claimant countries, including China. A ruling on the Philippine case by the arbitral tribunal is seen to provide claimant countries a clearer direction in resolving the dispute.

Asked if China can be made to follow the tribunal’s ruling, Jose emphasized there is no international law enforcement agency that can compel China to abide by the order.

“There is no international police to enforce. We would be relying on the international community,” Jose said.

“We don’t expect the tribunal to come out immediately with a decision. It may take a couple of months,” he added.


PHILSTAR

Philippines rejects bilateral talks with China anew By Delon Porcalla JULY 8, 2015


Latest satellite imagery from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative website shows the reclamation and construction work by China on Zamora (Subi) Reef. Image taken last June shows the inner harbor being transited by dozens of support craft with active dredgers. Construction is ongoing with two cement plants being built along the seawalls. Inset shows a map using data provided by UNCLOS and the CIA to compare China’s nine-dash-line claimed territory and its neighbors’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones.

MANILA, JULY 13, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla - Malacañang yesterday rejected China’s renewed offer of bilateral talks to settle the West Philippine Sea dispute, saying only by engaging other members of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) can any negotiation on the issue be acceptable.

“The Philippine position is clear: the principle of ASEAN centrality should be recognized in accordance with the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC),” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters in a news briefing.

He was reacting to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua’s pronouncement on Monday that his country is “still open and will be open forever” to bilateral negotiations to settle its territorial spat with the Philippines.

The Chinese ambassador’s statement came a day before the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration was to determine in a hearing whether it has jurisdiction over Manila’s case contesting Beijing’s nine-dash-line claim. Hearings on the issue will be held until July 13.

READ MORE...


Zhao Jianhua

“I think the best is to sit down bilaterally to talk. We need to resume our bilateral negotiation without any condition. I think this is the best way that we can discuss how to peacefully settle these disputes,” Zhao told journalists at his residence after the Chinese government donated books to the National Library of the Philippines, gmanetwork.com reported.

“Our door for bilateral consultation and negotiation is still open and will be open forever,” Zhao said.

The Philippines, China and other ASEAN members with claims in the South China Sea and the West Philippine are signatories to the DOC. The parties involved in the maritime dispute are also trying to thresh out a legally binding code of conduct to govern their forces’ behavior in disputed waters, believed to contain vast mineral and oil deposits. Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia have overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea.

The dispute with China came to a head in 2012 when Chinese vessels prevented Philippine Navy ships from arresting Chinese poachers at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales.

The poachers were allowed to leave with their illegal catch, but Chinese maritime surveillance ships have never left the area since then.

Strong ties

Despite Manila’s rejection of bilateral negotiations, Coloma said the 40-year-old Philippine-China relations remain strong.

In 2011, President Aquino and then Chinese President Hu Jintao reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to peace during the Philippine leader’s state visit, citing other facets of their relationship like trade and education.

In The Hague, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the first hearing at the Permanent Court of Arbitration would be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (about 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. last night Manila time) at the Peace Palace.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay opened the presentation.


HILBAY

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario spoke on the reason for the filing of the Philippines’ case, while lawyers from the Washington-based law firm Foley Hoag, led by Paul Reichler, would present arguments regarding jurisdiction.

“The entire Philippine delegation will be present to witness the proceedings,” Valte said.

Top executive, legislative and judiciary officials form part of the Philippine delegation. They are Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Supreme Court Justices Antonio Carpio and Francis Jardeleza, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Benjamin Caguioa, Sandiganbayan Justice Sarah Fernandez, retired Armed Forces chief and now undersecretary for security cluster Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevara.

The Philippines filed the arbitration case against China in 2013, contesting the Asian power’s incredible claim to almost the entire West Philippine Sea.

Jurisdiction questioned

China has refused to participate in the case but in a public position paper in December 2014, it raised concerns about the tribunal’s jurisdiction over the matter. The hearing on jurisdiction was in acknowledgement of China’s objections.

In an interview with reporters last Monday, Zhao dismissed criticisms that China is militarizing the waters with its building of what appeared to be military installations on reclaimed islands.

“What I would like to emphasize is that we do not wish to define these disputes as military issues because they are political and diplomatic issues and they require political and diplomatic solution,” he said.

“China has never regarded the dispute as a military dispute,” he added.

He argued China would never wage a war against the Philippines. “It is not China’s policy and will not be China’s policy” to resort to violence to achieve its goal.

“Peaceful means, bilateral talks,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Escudero called on all Filipinos to back the government’s case against China.

Escudero said all Filipinos – regardless of political affiliation – should rally behind the Philippines’ filing of the case before the international arbitral tribunal.

He said that the political opposition in particular should set aside its differences with the administration and realize that this issue is more important than politics.

“If we can throw our support behind our national athletes, surely we can do the same for the legal giants who will be fighting for flag and country,” Escudero said.

He said he was glad the government has sent a power-packed delegation to The Hague to present the country’s position.

“This is an unprecedented show of solidarity of our three branches of government, one that reminds us that we should all set aside our differences when it comes to national interest,” he said. – Marvin Sy


TRIBUNE

China unyielding as RP argues case before UN Written by Joshua L. Labonera Thursday, 09 July 2015 00:00



BEIJING: TRIBUNAL HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER DISPUTE

The Philippines has appealed to an international tribunal to declare China’s claims to most of the South China Sea illegal, warning the integrity of United Nations’ (UN) maritime laws is at stake, an argument which only hardened China’s position to reject the proceeding.

In opening comments to the tribunal in The Hague yesterday, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the country has sought judicial intervention because China’s behavior had become increasingly “aggressive” and nego-tiations had proved futile.

China up to the other day, however, was offering the holding of bilateral negotiations to settle the dispute.

Prior to Philippines’ filing of the case with the arbitral body, detente was observed over the disputed territories in South China Sea.

Lately, however, China had started reclaiming land over some of the disputed areas which were believed to have been triggered by the UN arbitration case that it refused to recognize.

Del Rosario said the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS), which the Philippines and China have both ratified, should be used to resolve their bitter territorial dispute.

“The case before you is of the utmost importance to the Philippines, to the region, and to the world,” del Rosario told the tribunal.

READ MORE...

“In our view, it is also of utmost significance to the integrity of the convention, and to the very fabric of the legal order of the seas and oceans,” he said.

China insists it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the South China Sea, a strategically vital waterway with shipping lanes through which about a third of all the world’s traded oil passes.

Its claim, based on ancient Chinese maps, reaches close to the coasts of its regional neighbors including the Philippines.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the sea, which have for decades made it a potential military flashpoint.

Tensions have risen sharply in recent years as a rising China has sought to stake its claims more assertively.

China maintained that the international tribunal has no jurisdiction over the dispute.

In a commentary in state-run Global Times, China said the Philippines unilaterally initiated in 2013 compulsory arbitration against China on the basis of Part XV of the UNCLoS.

“It skilfully fragments the dispute with China into various free-standing-appearing entitlement claims, while steadfastly avoiding sovereignty and delimitation,” it said.

“The Philippines’ fragmentation magic cannot conceal the sovereignty-delimitation nature of the dispute,” it said.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in a statement, said the government’s rejection of bilateral talks with China will force the superpower to take a more hardline position in the maritime dispute.


MARCOS, PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

“China opened the door and we shut it. The Chinese said let’s talk and we snubbed them. It’s like the Philippine government itself is encouraging China to take and maintain an unbending stance on the issue,” Marcos said.

Marcos said in a forum that the Philippines will not lose anything by accepting the Chinese invitation to a dialog.

“So talk, and tell them: we are not happy with what you are doing and we do not agree with what you are doing. But the next thing you say is: how do we fix this?” Marcos, vice chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said.

Marcos has called on the government to agree to or initiate bilateral talks with China when it aggressively started erecting structures in areas the Philippines is claiming as either parts of its sovereign territory or within its 200 nautical (370 kilometers) mile exclusive economic zone.

“We do not want war. Arbitration is not one that is going to be recognized by the Chinese. So it has to be negotiations,” Marcos said.

Following a stand-off between Chinese ships and the weak Filipino Navy in 2012, China took control of a rich fishing ground called Scarborough Shoal that is well within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

China has also undertaken giant reclamation activities that have raised fears it will use artificial islands to build new military outposts close to the Philippines and other claimants.

China has rejected all criticisms over its actions, insisting it has undisputed sovereign rights to the sea.

However, Del Rosario told the tribunal in the Hague that China’s argument of claiming the sea based on “historic rights” was without foundation.

“The so-called nine dash line (based on an old map used by China) has no basis whatsoever under international law,” he said.

The Philippines submitted its case to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, a 117-state body that rules on disputes between countries, in early 2013.

Del Rosario’s comments, held in closed door proceedings but released the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), were part of the Philippines’ opening oral arguments.

China has refused to participate in the proceedings and said it will not abide by any ruling, even though it is has ratified the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea. China, however, junked one condition in the same agreement.

However the Philippines hopes a ruling in its favor will pressure China into making concessions.

Any ruling from the tribunal is not expected until next year.

RP to clarify entitlements

Del Rosario reiterated however that the Philippines is not appearing before the tribunal to seek a ruling on sovereignty but to clarify maritime entitlements based on the UNCLoS.


DEL ROSARIO AT THE HAGUE PHILSTAR PHOTO

“It has acted forcefully to assert them, by exploiting the living and non-living resources in the areas beyond the UNCLOS limits while forcibly preventing other coastal States, including the Philippines, from exploiting the resources in the same areas – even though the areas lie well within 200 M of the Philippines’ coast and, in many cases, hundreds of miles beyond any EEZ or continental shelf that China could plausibly claim under the Convention,” Del Rosario said.

“We are here because we wish to clarify our maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, a question over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction. This is a matter that is most important not only to the Philippines, but also to all coastal States that border the South China Sea, and even to all the States Parties to UNCLoS,” he added.

Del Rosario further assailed the claims of China, saying that UNCLoS does not recognize, or permit the exercise of “historic rights” in areas beyond the limits of the maritime zones that are recognized or established by UNCLoS.

After Del Rosario’s speech, Paul Reichler, chief counsel for the Philippines, presented the justification for the Tribunal’s jurisdiction over the Philippine claims under UNCLoS.

Professor Philippe Sands followed Reichler’s presentation by stating that the Philippines did not raise questions of sovereignty over land or raise questions of maritime delimitation.

“China has made it pretty clear of not accepting nor participating in the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines,” Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said.


Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson PHILSTAR FILE

“The arbitration violates the consensus the Philippines has affirmed with China on many occasions, as well as its solemn commitment made in the Code of Conduct. China opposes any actions taken by the Philippines to initiate and push ahead with the arbitration,” Hua said.

Marcos said rejecting China’s offer to hold bilateral talks with the Philippines is limiting the government’s strategic options to stop China from antagonizing not only the Philippines, but all the other claimant-countries in the West Philippine Sea.

“We should not be snobbish. I can’t see any reason at all why we are not talking to China. On the contrary, there are more than enough obvious reasons why we should talk to superpower China,” he said.

He acknowledged that with China’s own geopolitical interests and its concern over the presence of the Americans in the area, bilateral talks between Manila and Beijing “are not going to be easy.”

“We’re strategically important to any great power in Asia-Pacific, but we have to play that role even-handedly. We have to stop thinking in terms of siding with the Chinese or siding with the Americans. Our allies are mainly the Filipinos,” Marcos said.

“What is the national interest, what is good for the Philippines, that’s all that we have to be thinking about,” he added.

-----------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

It’s David vs Goliath in The Hague By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 8, 2015 - 12:00am


Members of the Philippine team pose for a group photo at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands before the start of the oral arguments before the UN arbitral tribunal in connection with the case against China. Photo shows (front row, from left) Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, SC Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Benjamin Caguioa and Deputy Executive Secretary for legal affairs Menardo Guevarra with Consul General Henry Bensurto and the legal counsels led by Paul Reichler of Foley Hoag.

MANILA, Philippines - The United Nations Arbitral Tribunal started yesterday the hearing to address China’s objections to UN jurisdiction over the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against Beijing.

The Philippine legal team said it is working hard to get the tribunal to consider there is jurisdiction over the Philippine case during the hearing from July 7 to 13.

The Philippines is the first country to question China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

The Arbitral Tribunal in the case submitted by the Philippines against China under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), issued last April its fourth Procedural Order, deciding to conduct a hearing in July 2015 on the Arbitral Tribunal’s jurisdiction.

As the Arbitral Tribunal has previously noted, the Chinese government has repeatedly stated that “it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.”

Article 9 of Annex VII to the UNCLOS provides for proceedings to continue even if “one of the parties to the dispute does not appear before the arbitral tribunal or fails to defend its case.”

Article 9 further provides that in the event of a non-participating party, “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 law.”

In December 2014, China published a “Position Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines” in which it set out China’s view that the Arbitral Tribunal lacks jurisdiction to consider the Philippines’ submissions.

China said its position paper “shall not be regarded as China’s acceptance of or its participation in the arbitration.”

With its position paper, China is seen effectively taking part in the case filed by the Philippines even though it refused to take part in the arbitration proceedings.

On Dec. 16, 2014, the Arbitral Tribunal took note of the fact that China had not submitted a Counter-Memorial and requested further written argument from the Philippines on certain issues raised in the Philippines’ Memorial.

In response, the Philippines made a Supplemental Written Submission to the Arbitral Tribunal last March 16.

After seeking the views of the Parties, the Arbitral Tribunal has decided that it will treat China’s communications (including the position paper) as constituting a plea concerning the Arbitral Tribunal’s jurisdiction for purposes of Article 20 of the Rules of Procedure, which provides that the Arbitral Tribunal shall have the power to rule on objections to its jurisdiction or to the admissibility of any claim made in the proceedings.

The Philippines’ case against China was commenced on Jan. 22, 2013 when the Philippines served China with a Notification and Statement of Claim “with respect to the dispute with China over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).”

On Feb. 19, 2013, China presented the Philippines with a diplomatic note in which it described “the Position of China on the South China Sea issues,” and rejected and returned the Philippines’ Notification.

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Judge Thomas Mensah of Ghana.

The other members are Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Prof. Alfred Soons of the Netherlands and Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany.


MANILA STANDARD

Tribunal to hear new arguments By Vito Barcelo, Sandy Araneta | Jul. 11, 2015 at 12:01am

THE Philippine legal team will present a second round of oral arguments in The Hague after the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal decided to ask more questions on the Philippines’ petition against China over their maritime dispute in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday.

The agency said the UN Arbitral Tribunal will again convene to deliberate on the presentation of the Philippines in the case it filed against China over the disputed territories, and to decide if it has jurisdiction over it.

“The Arbitral Tribunal will be convening today [Friday] to deliberate on the presentations made by the Philippines on its claims against China,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters.

“In the past two days, the Philippines presented its arguments to prove that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the matter and that there is no bar to the exercise of its jurisdiction,” Valte said.

“The Philippines will await word if it will be propounded additional questions by the members of the tribunal and if a Second Round of Arguments on Hearing and Admissibility will be required. If so, then it will be held on July 13, 2015.”

Valte is part of the Philippine delegation to the arbitration proceedings, where China has refused to participate.

The Philippines has told the Arbitral Tribunal that China’s expansive claim over the disputed waters threatens the law of the sea and endangers small countries like the Philippines.

But Foreign Affairs refused to comment further on what will be the Philippines’ next move should the tribunal decide it has no jurisdiction on the dispute.

READ MORE...

The Philippines merely wanted the tribunal, which interprets UNCLOS, to invalidate China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, Foreign Affairs said. It said the second round of presentation would be held on July 13.

The high-level Philippine delegation, led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, ended its first round of arguments after two days, telling the tribunal that the country’s case against China does not constitute specific exemptions under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which would preclude it from having jurisdiction.

“We are here because we wish to clarify our maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, a question over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction,” Del Rosario told the tribunal.

“This is a matter that is most important not only to the Philippines, but also to all coastal States that border the South China Sea and even to all the States Parties to UNCLOS.”


PHILSTAR

Philippines ready for 2nd round Philippines panel set to answer tribunal’s questions By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 12, 2015 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0


PHILIPPINE LEGAL TEAM AT THE HAGUE

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippisne legal team in The Hague is ready for clarificatory questions from the arbitral tribunal, which has set another round of oral arguments for tomorrow to determine if it has jurisdiction over the maritime case filed by Manila against China, Malacañang said yesterday.

“They do this (questioning) to seek some clarifications. Our panel is prepared to answer questions,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in Filipino over state-run dzRB.

“According to our international law expert – law of the sea expert – this is normally done if there are little clarifications that should be asked again. So our panel is ready to answer the questions…we don’t expect anything (adversarial),” he said.

Lacierda said the process is no different from hearings conducted in regular courts.

“Our panel is really ready. We prepared for this petition for one year, so our lawyers are ready, including Solicitor General Florin Hilbay,” he said.

“We are hoping for a favorable ruling. In any case, rest assured that the government will continue to act in the country’s best interest and in accordance with international law,” he said.

READ MORE...

The Permanent Court of Arbitration – not the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) – is handling the case as Beijing’s refusal to take part in proceedings has made automatic arbitration necessary.

But despite snubbing the proceedings, Beijing filed a pleading questioning the court’s jurisdiction over the case filed by the Philippines in 2013.

The arbitral tribunal began hearings on the jurisdiction issue last July 7.

Manila’s filing of the case was prompted by China’s relentless encroachment on the West Philippine Sea, including its building of artificial islands to strengthen its claim over areas that are clearly within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The artificial islands are believed to be future Chinese air and naval bases.

Beijing is invoking “historic rights” to justify its nine-dash line principle and its provocative actions in disputed waters.

China’s intention to expand its presence in the West Philippine Sea became clear in 2012 when its maritime surveillance ships prevented the Philippine Navy from arresting Chinese poachers at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

After a brief standoff between the Chinese and Filipino forces, the poachers were allowed to leave with their illegal harvest of baby sharks, giant clams and endangered corals.

Chinese vessels, which have never left the shoal since then, have been barring Filipino fishermen from the area.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told the tribunal that Manila began in August 1995 its diplomatic approach to contesting China’s position when the latter built structures on Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, which is 126 nautical miles off Palawan and 600 nautical miles from the closest point on China’s Hainan island.

Two years later, then Chinese vice minister for foreign affairs Tang Jiaxuan stated during bilateral negotiations that Beijing and Manila should “approach the disputes on the basis of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, particularly its provisions on the maritime regimes like the exclusive economic zone.”

A joint communiqué on the matter was issued in July 1998 between then Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon and Tang emphasizing the importance of resolving maritimes disputes based on UNCLOS principles.

The initiatives came to naught, Del Rosario said, due to China’s “intransigent insistence” that it alone possesses maritime rights over disputed waters and that Manila must first recognize China’s sovereignty “before meaningful discussion of other issues could take place.”

“We call on the Tribunal to kindly uphold the Convention and enable the rule of law to prevail,” Del Rosario said.


PHILSTAR

Palace defends hiring int'l lawyers in arbitration case vs China By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated July 8, 2015 - 3:03pm 0 5 googleplus0 0


Lacierda

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Wednesday defended the government's decision to hire international lawyers for its arbitration case against China.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the foreign lawyers tapped by the Philippines were hired based on their competence, expertise and field of knowledge.

"These are lawyers with international reputation on appealing before the international tribunal, so we can rely on them. They have been with us since we filed the petition before the ITLOS (International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea)," Lacierda said in a press briefing.

When asked if the government did not find local lawyers who are as competent as their foreign counterparts, Lacierda said Filipino counsels still do not have the same amount of experience in international arbitration.

"We have the knowledge, but insofar as appearing before the international tribunal… You know, you get the best persons that you can hire for that," Lacierda said.

"It will be foolhardy for us not to hire experts on appearing—those who have experience appearing before those tribunals. So, we are putting our best foot forward, both international and domestic," he added.

READ MORE...

Besides, Lacierda assured, there is a close coordination between the foreign counsels and the government lawyers of the Philippines.

Lacierda also said the Philippines hired international experts in other cases in the past.

The Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands started on Tuesday the formal hearings on the South China Sea dispute.

During the first day of the hearings, Paul Reichler, chief counsel for the Philippines, presented the justification for the tribunal's jurisdiction over the Philippine claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Professor Philippe Sands followed Reichler's presentation by stating that the Philippines did not raise questions of sovereignty over land or raise questions of maritime delimitation.

China has refused to participate in the arbitration.

The Philippines is represented by:

Agent

Florin Hilbay (Philippine solicitor general) Counsel

Paul Reichler and Lawrence Martin (Foley Hoag LLP, Washington DC, United States of America) Professor Bernard Oxman (University of Miami School of Law, Miami, United States of America) Professor Philippe Sands QC (Matrix Chambers, London, United Kingdom) Professor Alan Boyle (Essex Court Chambers, London, United Kingdom)


TRIBUNE

The Hague contingent sparks spat between Roque, Palace Written by Joshua L. Labonera Thursday, 09 July 2015 00:00 f


Roque

A vicious word war has started not between China and the Philippines but between a Palace mouthpiece and international law expert Harry Roque regarding the government’s repre-sentation in the ongoing territorial dispute arbitration at The Hague.

Roque questioned the government’s hiring of international lawyers to defend the country’s claims in South China Sea friction before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLoS) at The Netherlands and the huge Philippine delegation composed of 35 personalities for which public funds were spent.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda took a jab at Roque and called him an attention seeker, then added yesterday that the lawyer was politically motivated in issuing his criticisms.

Roque said that he is gunning for a senatorial slot under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in next year’s elections.

“Anything that he says right now should be deemed with political undertones. The efforts of a united government should not be reduced to counting the costs since at stake is what the country fights for. I think that spells out the position of the Philippines here,” he said.

Roque in a statement shot back saying that what Lacierda should present in detail is how much the Palace is spending on a delegation of 35 people at the Hague in the Netherlands for the oral arguments in the Philippine arbitral case against China over the West Philippine Sea.

“Calling me KSP or Kulang sa Pansin (attention seeker) simply avoids the issue altogether. Press Secretary Edwin Lacierda’s response shows the Palace is Kabado sa Paliwanag (unsure of its argument) because they really cannot justify this big junket when only two in the government will actually argue before the Tribunal,” Roque said.

Roque said the money being spent on the Philippine delegation for at least a week will go a long way in helping fisherfolks from Zambales displaced by the Chinese takeover of the Panatag shoal.

“Has the government even thought of assisting the thousands of fisherfolks who are now without any steady and adequate source of livelihood because of its inept handling of the Panatag shoal stand-off?,” Roque added.

Roque said the Aquino administration has been consumed by a junket fever “that they couldn’t think of anything else.”

“Until now, Malacañang has not provided any steady and adequate livelihood assistance to the families of the displaced fisher folks,” he said.

READ MORE..

Lacierda defended the government’s hiring of international lawyers to defend the position of the country before the ITLoS on the maritime dispute, saying that Roque, who questioned the same, should know the reason behind it.

He said the government hired the counsels since they have experience in facing an international tribunal.

Aquino’s spokesman said that although the Philippines is not short of lawyers capable of defending the country’s claim, those the government hired have the experience in arguing cases before international courts.

“We’ve seen how important this is for us. Why we heeded an international counsel? I think Mr. Roque is trying to be specious in his statements. We’ll leave it with the statement of Abigail Valte. I’m a lawyer, I can answer him straight why we need international counsel, and he knows that also. So, stop asking questions that you know the answer to,” he said.

“We’ve always hired experts on that. It would be foolhardy for us to not hire experts who appeared before those tribunals. We are putting our best foot forward, both international and domestic. That goes to show why we didn’t use him (Roque),” Lacierda said.

The Philippine government has hired foreign counsels to argue the Philippines’ case before the arbitration court, namely Washington-based Foley Hoag LLP international lawyer Paul S. Reichler and Lawrence H. Martin, Professor Bernard H. Oxman from the University of Miami School of Law, London-based Professor Philippe Sands QC from Matrix Chambers and Professor Alan Boyle from Essex Court Chambers, also based in London, United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Roque, in a statement on the same day, responded to Lacierda’s attention seeker tag saying that Malacañang is only anxious to explain the amount spent for the delegation to the Netherlands-based tribunal, as 35 people compose the Philippine delegation to the international court.

Asked on how much was spent for the team sent to The Hague, the Palace deferred in answering the query, as Lacierda, in the same briefing, said he has no direct information on the matter as of yet.

The Philippines earlier announced sending top officials to The Hague to oversee the proceedings, where members from the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary form part of the Philippine delegation, including Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Francis Jardeleza, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Benjamin Caguioa, Sandiganbayan Justice Sarah Fernandez, Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista, and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevara.

On the other hand, Roque noted that the bunk of money spent for the delegation may have went way better going to help fisherfolks from Zambales displaced by the Chinese takeover of the Panatag shoal.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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