Philippine lawmaker wants holiday to honour South China Sea ruling in favour of Manila


A Philippine lawmaker has proposed a bill to honour an international court’s ruling in favour of Manila in its maritime dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea, saying the move would boost national pride.

Gary C. Alejano, of the Magdalo Party-List, wants a working holiday to commemorate a verdict in The Hague on July 16, 2016, that concluded that China had no legal basis to claim historic rights to much of the South China Sea, known in the Philippines as the West Philippine Sea.

“It is my hope that by declaring as a special working holiday the 12th of July … we can inspire Filipinos and promote national pride,” Alejano told the South China Morning Post on Thursday. The bill was received by the Philippines’ House of Representatives on December 18.

“This is also in response to the sentiment of the people dissatisfied with how the government is handling the issue of the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Alejano is a former Marine captain and fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. His party, the Magdalo Party-List, represents retired personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and their families.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: EPA
His proposed bill specifically refers to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) rejection of China’s “nine-dash line” claims, which demarcates hundreds of miles to the southeast of the Chinese island of Hainan and covers some 90 per cent of the disputed waters. The PCA ruled that the claims had no basis under international law.

Beijing boycotted the hearing and has vowed to ignore the UN-backed tribunal’s decision, saying it had no jurisdiction over the dispute. “China will never accept any claim or action based on those awards,” President Xi Jinping of China said at the time.