South China Sea ruling in Hague could be mid-2016 – PH lawyer


An aerial photo taken through a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on mischief reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, in this May 11, 2015 file photo. Ritchie B. Tongo, Reuters

WASHINGTON – The chief counsel for the Philippines in its Hague tribunal case against China over competing claims in the South China Sea said on Friday a final ruling could come as early as June next year.

Paul Reichler said he also believed that in spite of China’s rejection of the case, international pressure would eventually oblige Beijing to comply with a ruling against it.

In a legal setback for Beijing on Thursday, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear some territorial claims the Philippines has filed against China over disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Reichler called this a “major victory” and said he expected an oral hearing on the merits of the Philippines’ case would be held by the end of the year and a final ruling made within six months of that.

“We are talking about a final judgment being issued right in the middle of 2016, perhaps June of 2016, but I am only speculating at this point,” he said.

“For the Philippines, having now established that there is jurisdiction for the tribunal to consider its claim … leaves us very optimistic that the ultimate outcome will be very successful,” Reichler said.

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