Philippines: no concession to China over Hague ruling

Philippine Solicitor General Jose Calida strikes hard line ahead of China visit by former president Ramos to start talks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 July, 2016, 12:34am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 July, 2016, 12:43am

The Philippines will concede nothing to China as it seeks to implement an international tribunal ruling against Beijing’s claims to most of the South China Sea, its top lawyer said on Friday.

The tribunal on Tuesday ruled against China but Beijing rejected the decision, warning of a “decisive response” to provocations against its security interests based on the verdict.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced late on Thursday that he would send former president Fidel Ramos to China to start talks on the ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Philippine Solicitor General Jose Calida stressed there would be no concessions to China.

“We value the award given by the [tribunal], and the Philippines will not concede any of the awards given to us,” Calida said, using the legal term for the ruling.

The tribunal found there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources in areas falling within its nine-dash line, which is based on a vague map that emerged in the 1940s.

The nine-dash line overlaps waters also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Ruling throws up roadblock for talks to settle South China Sea row, analysts say

The tribunal also ruled that Beijing had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights to exploit resources in waters up to 340km beyond its coast, called its exclusive economic zone.

China had built artificial islands atop seven reefs in the area, inflicting severe environmental damage, the tribunal said.

“We will use diplomacy. I believe this is the most peaceful way of settling this,” Calida said, adding Duterte had set no time frame for achieving results. “We will be patient of course and hopefully China will show the same grace that we have shown.”

Duterte, who took office on June 30, has said he wanted better relations with China and to attract Chinese investment for major infrastructure projects.

Ramos served as president from 1992 to 1998 and is known to favour close ties with China. He has yet to accept the mission.

Sino-Philippine ties plummeted over the maritime row under Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino, whose government filed the arbitration case in 2013.

Senior Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio warned on yesterday it would be illegal for Manila to jointly develop with China or any other country the resources in the areas adjudicated as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Carpio, a member of the Philippine team that brought the suit against China, told a public forum the Filipino constitution reserved the “use and enjoyment” of the resources in the vast maritime zone exclusively for Filipinos. But he said Manila might engage foreign entities as contractors to extract or develop these resources.

In response, Calida said: “Certainly we will not do something illegal or unconstitutional”.