PNoy expresses elation over U.N. Tribunal’s decision to hear Philippines’ case against China

ARTECHE, Eastern Samar, Oct 31 -- President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday he is glad that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has decided to accept the Philippines’ case against China on the South China Sea dispute.

During an interview here, the President said that with the tribunal’s decision, the Philippines overcomes the initial challenge in its case against China—to determine whether the international arbitral tribunal has jurisdiction over the case.

“Napakatuwa natin na sinabi nitong tribunal na ito na meron nga silang jurisdiction, at doon sa press release na nabasa ko kanina, inaasahan na ang pangalawang mga tanong ay baka magkaroon na sila ng desisyon as early as next year,” he said, noting that had the court ruled otherwise, the case would no longer proceed.

“’Yung mabilis na kilos, medyo masalimuot ‘yung talakayan dito pero masasabi natin talagang sino ba naman ang hindi matutuwa na talagang parang umiiral ‘yon ngang tinatawag na rule of law.”

Asked how the ruling would affect Philippine-Chinese relations, President Aquino said he expects it to clarify things, especially on the rights and obligations of both countries under the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Kapag wala nang malabo, maliwanag ang ating mga dapat sundin, at hindi ba magiging paraan ito para mas maging maaymagazine ng ugnayan ng isa’t isa,” he said.

On whether China would respect the recent developments, the President said that although China has refused to participate in the proceedings, the tribunal took into consideration the country’s position paper on the dispute.

The President said the tribunal had asked both parties, who are signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to obey the convention.

He also said he hopes the ruling would not affect China’s participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum that is being hosted by the Philippines.

The South China Sea issue is not the entirety of Philippine-Chinese relations, he emphasized.

President Aquino further said that when he attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia next month, he will once again push for the conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

He said he would remind fellow leaders in the ASEAN that after agreeing on the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and the meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012, there is a need to conclude the Code of Conduct.

“‘Ang boses na ating ibabahagi ... na talagang dapat yata may urgency na matapos natin ang usapan at nang magkaroon tayo ng Code of Conduct. Isang bahagi ito doon sa ating interventions na gagawin sa ASEAN,” he said. (PCOO PND (as)


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