• Sat
  • Jul 26, 2014
  • Updated: 11:31am
NewsAsia
TERRITORIAL DISPUTES

Philippines seeks UN arbitration over South China Sea disputes

Minister says seeking arbitration was 'last resort' forced by alleged Chinese incursions, but that door is still open for bilateral talks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 3:48am

Manila is determined to pursue arbitration through the United Nations in the dispute over maritime territory in the South China Sea because it is "the last resort", the Philippine foreign minister said yesterday.

China formally rejected the UN arbitration on February 19. A Chinese diplomat had told the South China Morning Post that Manila was making a mistake by resorting to arbitration because "we are not afraid of UNCLOS (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas). Manila underestimates our knowledge at its peril."

Yesterday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said during a media briefing: "As far as we are concerned, the train has left the station. Either China is on board or they are not. But as I said [of] the compulsory arbitration, the word will come down whether China is there [or not]."

However, even as the arbitration continues, he left the door open for an alternative resolution. "I think, yes, we will entertain bilateral discussions," Del Rosario said.

We actually had 45 bilateral consultations with China, again to no avail. And so for us, the arbitral tribunal under UNCLOS was the last resort in terms of seeking a peaceful resolution to this dispute

He disclosed that one of the "immediate reasons" for going to the UN was China's continued incursions in disputed territorial waters. "Based on our last intelligence report, there are now five Chinese vessels - four maritime vessels and one fisheries enforcement vessel" off Bajo de Masinloc, otherwise known as Scarborough Shoal and which China calls Huangyan Island, he said.

Del Rosario noted that bilateral consultations on the conflict had been going on for 18 years. In addition, since the tense stand-off over Scarborough Shoal began a year ago, "we actually had 45 bilateral consultations with China, again to no avail. And so for us, the arbitral tribunal under UNCLOS was the last resort in terms of seeking a peaceful resolution to this dispute", he said.

He noted that the UN tribunal was fully constituted on April 24, with a Sri Lankan judge appointed president of the arbitration panel,and French, German, Dutch and Polish judges as members. "They are organising themselves and establishing rules on how to move forward. They will be looking at whether the tribunal has jurisdiction over the case. They will be ready to judge the merits of our case," he said. He estimated arbitration could last between two and four years.

The Philippines, Japan and Vietnam have been talking to each other over their overlapping claims with China, Del Rosario confirmed. "I think both countries - Japan and Vietnam - are very concerned about maritime security. So I think we have co-operation in terms of dialogue on how maritime security can be achieved; how freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce can be guaranteed. These are discussions we have on a regular basis."

As for how the Philippine government views the new Chinese leadership and the way its envoys deal with Manila, Del Rosario said: "Our view is that we are looking for the normalisation of our relations with China … and in the process we are trying to come up with a peaceful resolution of the maritime disputes."

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hongkiejj@malaysiaboleh
"I think, yes, we will entertain bilateral discussions," Del Rosario said.
wow luv that word "entertain"...shows a hint or two of cockiness ...anyway, whatever the outcome, lets hope this will resolve itself peacefully
gnowf@yahoo.com
both parties won't back off from their sovereingthy claims.Only war will
settle this dispute
RMY
This dispute has been around for years. Everyone knows the end result. The main concern is execution of the verdict, which is extremely difficult if to execute. It will end up the result is unforceable.
bob.w.knight
i disagree. China will be under a lot of pressure to leave if they lose in court. Noones above the law or exempt from scorn of public opinion
 
 
 
 
 

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