MANILA – The Philippine government may seek provisional measures against Beijing’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea once the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) now hearing Manila’s complaint decides that it has jurisdiction over the case.
According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, this is one of the steps being studied by the legal team headed by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay. De Lima is part of the country’s delegation to the PCA at The Hague, which opened oral arguments last week. It deliberated Friday following two days of presentations by the Philippine side (China has totally snubbed the proceedings) and announced a second round of hearings on Monday, July 13.
At the weekend, De Lima said, “If the arbitral tribunal rules favorably that it has jurisdiction on the case, then that could be one of the measures that we might ask for.”
At present, the legal team, which includes American lawyers from the law firm Foley and Hoag LLP, is focused on the hearings on the jurisdiction issue.
The notion of seeking provisional measures, if only to mitigate the damage caused by China’s relentless reclamation on seven reefs in the South China Sea, was broached recently by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Carpio, who has delivered lectures here and abroad to demolish China’s 9-dash line claim on virtually the entire South China Sea, said the reclamation activities are destroying the marine environment in the area, including reefs that take thousands of years to restore.
There is basis for a provisional measure under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS, in Carpio’s view.