MANILA (Mabuhay) — The Philippine delegation argued before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands that China’s nine-dash claim has deprived the Philippines of fishing in disputed territories.
The first round of arguments for the hearing on the merits of the Philippines’ case challenging the territorial claims of China began November 24 and is scheduled to last until November 30.
In a bulletin sent from The Hague, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the team’s November 24 presentation focused “on the lack of basis for China’s historic claims over the Nine-Dash Line.”
According to Valte, principal counsel Paul Reichler argued that China’s nine-dash claim does not exist in the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“Mr. Reichler mentioned that China has asserted exclusive rights over the areas covered by the Nine-Dash Line and has deprived the Philippines of fishing and exploration activities,” said Valte.
The Philippines is of the position that it has exclusive rights to fish in the disputed waters within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Professor Bernard Oxman, one of the legal counsels, discussed how China’s claims to the South China Sea, parts of which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea, encroaches on the rights of coastal states like the Philippines.
Lawyer Andrew Loewenstein, meanwhile, presented eight maps, one of them dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
The maps “show that China’s territory did not include that which it claims now under the Nine-Dash Line,” said Valte.
Even for the sake of argument, China’s claim of historic rights after the UNCLOS is flawed, said Loewenstein, because it “failed to satisfy the requirements to establish the claim, namely: a continuous exercise of exclusive control for a long period of time over the said area.”
The Philippine delegation is headed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and is composed of representatives from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government.
The entire delegation is comprised of 48 individuals, including six Philippine ambassadors from different posts in Europe, counsel, advocates, expert witnesses, and support staff. Of the 48, only 17 are from the home offices of the different departments in Manila.
Last month, the Hague court ruled that it has immediate jurisdiction over seven out of 15 issues the Philippines raised against China. China, however, rejected the court’s authority in the case and wants to deal with the issue bilaterally. (MNS)