tribunal jurisdiction over its case against China
By Michaela del
MANILA, Oct. 30 (PNA) -- The Philippines on Friday welcomed the decision
of an international tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands to assume
jurisdiction over its case against China, which seeks to invalidate
Beijing’s massive claim in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Such ruling by the five-man judges of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on
October 29, three months after the Philippine legal team argued its case in
The Hague last July, enables the court to finally proceed to formal
deliberations on Manila’s complaint that challenges the legality of
Beijing’s assertion that its ownership of nearly the entire South China Sea
is “indisputable” and “historical.”
“We welcome the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal that it has jurisdiction
over our case,” a Foreign Affairs statement said. “We look forward to the
Tribunal's further hearing on the merits of the case.”
In an initial legal victory for the Philippines, which filed the case in
January 2013, the tribunal said it will be holding hearings soon and that a
final ruling on the case will be handed down in 2016.
The tribunal, in its 147-page decision, also debunked China’s argument that
Manila’s case is beyond the scope of the court’s mandate.
In its decision, the tribunal said it has immediate jurisdiction on seven
out of 15 points raised by Manila against China, called “submissions” in
legal parlance, but postponed for “later consideration” its jurisdiction
ruling on eight other issues raised by Manila, saying it will be decided on
as it conducts a formal hearing on the merits of the case.
“The Tribunal will convene a further hearing on the merits of the
Philippines’ claims. In consultation with the Parties, the Tribunal has
provisionally set the dates for the merits hearing,” the ruling said. “The
Tribunal expects that it will render its Award on the merits and remaining
jurisdictional issues in 2016.”
China says it owns about 90 percent of the South China Sea and the cluster
of islands, reefs and atolls further south that’s called the Spratlys.
Other claimants are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Parts of the South
China Sea that fall under Manila’s exclusive economic zone was renamed West
Philippine Seaby the Philippine government.
All claimants have stationed military troops in their territories in the
vast sea, said to be sitting atop huge oil and gas deposits, except for