- The Philippines won the arbitration case against China as the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal backed its territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea
- The Philippine delegation to the Tribunal was triumphant in exalting the rule of law in the international community
- Atty. Paul Reichler, legal counsel of the Philippines, is still hopeful that successful negotiations between all the parties will take place and that their rights will be recognized and respected
The Philippine delegation to The Hague, Netherlands waved their flag victoriously after the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal ruled in favor of its claims over the West Philippines Sea against China.
The Washington, D.C.-based American attorney and legal counsel of the Philippines, Atty. Paul Reichler, stated that the case became more challenging for the Philippines when the tribunal had to serve as counsels for Beijing and develop the case and evidence that China would have presented to the Tribunal.
Reichler explained that the Philippines’ case and claims were very strong because they were built and presented in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which the Philippines and China are parties to, together with the other 180 nation-states.
The ruling invalidates China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, but Reichler pointed out that the ruling did not delve into the issue of sovereignty of any islands in the disputed sea.
"That would be outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal, which was established under the law of the sea convention. The law of the sea convention does not address sovereignty over land territory. So when we talk about territory, we talk about maritime space, the sea itself and the underlying seabed. And yes, the ruling makes very clear that the Philippines is fully entitled to a 200 mile exclusive economic zone," Reichler further explained.
While China rejected the ruling of the Tribunal, there is still a problem in the lack of an enforcement mechanism in international law. However, Reichler argued that the rulings of the international court are binding for they are a statement of the law and that states are faced with a lot of pressure to force them to comply with such rulings. Therefore, Reichler believes that China will be greatly challenged by the pressure of the whole international community and will ensure that its best interests are addressed by reaching an agreement with all the parties in the territorial dispute.
"The credit really goes to the government of the Philippines - both the previous government and the current government for bringing the case forward...to persevere and to exalt the rule of law over the rule of might or force,” he said.
Reichler expressed his hope that peaceful and successful negotiations would take place between the parties involved. Given this, he further emphasized that it is now our duty to determine what is best for the Philippines.-NB, Kami Media