MANILA – If care is taken to preserve it, there is still hope that an international court’s 2016 ruling in a case filed by the Philippines against China over their maritime disputes in the South China Sea can yield fruit, advocates of Manila’s sovereign rights in sea said Thursday.
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Speaking at a forum marking the second anniversary of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea, acting Philippine chief justice Antonio Carpio said the award “will not be waived unless we waive it ourselves.”
Carpio: PH can enforce arbitration win without China’s participation
Carpio recalled that Manila could have inadvertently abandoned the award had Beijing immediately accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration in December 2016 that he was setting it aside in favor of loans and investments from China.
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“We could have waived the ruling if we did not clarify (Duterte’s remarks),” he said. “His statements on this dispute could bind the Philippines, so he has to be careful.”
After Duterte made them, Carpio said, the Department of Foreign Affairs hastened to clarify that the president would ask China for compliance at some future time during his term.
Can Duterte set aside PH arbitration win vs China?
China refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings that the Philippines, under Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino, initiated in 2013 under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
It continues to ignore the arbitration ruling, asserting it has indisputable sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, and it has since completed reclamation work at seven features in the area, while installing military equipment and weaponry as well.
Duterte, whose term ends in 2022, had said he was warned by Chinese President Xi Jinping of war when he brought up Manila’s desire for Beijing to comply with the arbitration award.