A decision for the The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China is expected within this month. One Philippine Supreme Court Justice, Antonio Carpio, is confident that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague, Netherlands will issue a favorable ruling for the Philippines. The case has been compared to Nicaragua v. United States because of the similarity of the proceedings, with a small developing nation going toe-to-toe with a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio yesterday said in a lecture that "all members of the tribunal know the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by heart, that is why I’m pretty confident that the nine-dash line will be struck down."
"If the nine-dash lines are struck down, that means there are high seas as you can see in the map and exclusive economic zones," he continued. The implications of striking down the nine-dash line means many things, and one of them is that countries like the United States can bolster their claim on freedom of navigation in the high seas. According to Carpio: "China cannot stop naval powers from sailing in the high seas".
"These are EEZs and under international law we can sail in the EEZ of the Philippines, EEZ of Vietnam even in your (China) EEZ without your permission because that’s international law," he said.
The case faces scrutiny for lacking an enforcing mechanism that can push China to respect and follow the decision of the court. On the subject of freedom of navigation, Carpio believes that other naval powers will help do the enforcing.
"So China will be fighting all the naval powers of the world. That portion of the decision will be enforced by the naval powers." he said.
While the actual ability to fish and mine oil in the disputed waters is up to the Philippines, Carpio cited one example wherein the Philippines can take control of oil fields already being tapped into by China.
"Let us say China will bring a gas platform to Reed Bank after the ruling, we can’t take it away, we don’t have the military capability and I don’t think the Americans will help us."
"The Philippines can sue China National Offshore Co. in Canada, which has ratified UNCLOS, and the tribunal’s ruling will say that the gas belongs to the Philippines. The Canadian court will honor that ruling and the Philippines will ask to seize the assets of China’s offshore company in Canada in 'payment for the gas China National Offshore Co. stole from us,'" said Carpio.