PHL diplomacy on SCS fits int’l law principles: SC magistrate

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A Supreme Court associate justice on Friday said the administration’s path to diplomacy in handling the South China Sea dispute with China fits into the core policy objectives of the international law system.

SC Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, during the 7th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law in Novotel, Manila, said the Duterte administration’s mode of enforcing the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling through diplomacy adheres to international law principles, particularly fealty to the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

“For now, the Philippines, with restraint, has chosen to enforce the Arbitral Award through diplomacy. This, of course, is a classic and recognized mode by which a state, through diplomatic action, could invoke redress, for itself or on behalf of its citizens, for injury caused by a wrongful act on another state,” Jardeleza said.

Jardeleza cited that the Philippines has pushed, through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for the early conclusion of an agreement on a Code of Conduct (COC) among the different ASEAN states and China.

Jardeleza also noted that the country has embarked on a path of “bilateral diplomacy” with China, which has reportedly opened doors to closer economic ties with the Asian giant.

“In fact, President (Rodrigo) Duterte is scheduled to meet next week with President Xi Jin Ping for the fifth time where, as announced by the presidential spokesperson, he intends to raise the matter of the Arbitral Award and the COC, among others,” he said.

He said the Philippine government has responded to events on the ground, attributed to China, through diplomatic protests.

The government, he added, has taken steps to beef up its air and naval capabilities to protect the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.

“Whether these actions taken by our government are correct or will prove efficacious is, in my view, still too early to tell,” he said. “Ultimately, we are a republican state whose leaders are accountable to the people. At a certain point, Filipinos will ask for results. How we get to those results, in the national interest, is a delicate task for our present and future political leaders.”

On July 12, 2016, the Philippines won its arbitration case filed against China in 2013, nullifying China’s nine-dash line claims of nearly the entire West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea, including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The PCA found “no legal basis” for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line” but China refused to recognize this. PNA