Filipinos urged to ‘keep talking’ about legal victory vs China


THE HAGUE — Filipinos should continue talking about Manila’s victory against China in an international arbitration court, a book author said, as the world marked 3 years since the landmark ruling.

China ignored the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated its vast claims to the South China Sea. The Philippines, under a new administration, refused to flaunt it.

“But the most important thing I think is for the Filipino people to keep talking about it, popularize the issue,” said journalist Marites Danguilan-Vitug, who wrote “Rock Solid: How The Philippines Won Its Maritime Case Against China.”

Danguilan-Vitug told a forum here that the ruling clarified the nature of the features of the South China Sea and which areas fell within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The award is “here to stay” said Alex Oude Elferink, a professor at Utrecht University and Director of the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea.

“It’s there. It some ways it will be taken into account and all the states will see how China will not being beneficial to China itself.”

Elfernik said China’s arguments to support its claims were “rather unconvincing”, adding “historic rights would not equal historic title.”

China’s refusal to participate in the arbitration indicates its insecurities over international laws said Wim Muller, international law professor and China expert at Maastricht University.

“What happened in South China Sea is that the decision makers and the ministry of foreign affairs decided that the maybe the South China Sea was too close as what China defines as core interest and therefore it could not risk the kind of humiliation that was associated in maybe losing a case in court and not prevailing on legal arguments,” he said.

Danguilan-Vitug said the recent incident of the ramming of a Filipino fishing vessel by a Chinese ship inside the EZZ of the Philippines might change how the current administration in Manila deals with China.

“Will this be a trigger of rethinking of the policy towards China? Let’s see. Things may still change,” she said, adding that seeing the results of the arbitral award will “not just be under one president but will take a number of generations.”