PHL welcomes US open support for 2016 ruling

The Philippine government on Wednesday welcomed the United States’ “open support” for the 2016 landmark ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping claims under its so-called nine-dash line map in the South China Sea.

“[W]e welcome the United States’ open support for the 2016 Arbitral Award. It is binding international law and the most authoritative application of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) on the maritime entitlements of features in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodro Locsin Jr. said in his intervention at the Special Association of Southeast Asian (Asean)-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Locsin stressed the decision “contributes to the rules-based order in Asean and benefits all the countries that use the vital artery that is the South China Sea” and that the rest is “bluster”.

He also thanked the US for its “reaffirmation with greater clarity” of its commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty.

“In the Southeast Asian context, that translates to keeping the peace and maintaining stability without pointless distractions. Thank you,” he said.

On the fifth anniversary of the arbitral tribunal ruling on July 12, State Secretary Antony Blinken repeated Washington’s commitment to protect the country during an armed attack against its public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea.

He also cited the Hague-based court’s ruling that China has “no lawful claim” to the areas that fall within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) and the Philippines, pursuant to their treaty obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention, are legally bound to comply with this decision,” Blinken said in his July 12 statement.

“The United States reaffirms its July 13, 2020 policy regarding maritime claims in the South China Sea. We also reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” he added.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, insists that the decision is “illegal” and that it will not recognize it.

Aside from the US, the European Union and various nations such as Germany, Canada, France, Japan, Australia, and Denmark have acknowledged the ruling, joining the Philippines in celebrating its fifth anniversary last Monday. PNA.GOV.PH