South China Sea arbitration case win ‘non-negotiable’

A group of fishermen from Subic town in Zambales province prepares their provisions for a trip to Panatag Shoal, a rich fishing ground in the West Philippine Sea that is being claimed by China. | Inquirer.net photo by Allan Macatuno

PHILIPPINE Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday, July 12, reaffirmed that the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea case is “non-negotiable.”

He made the statement on the 4th anniversary of the historic ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated China’s claim over the entire South China Sea and upheld the Philippines’ rights over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“The Philippines, as a law-abiding, peace-loving and responsible member of the international community, reaffirms on this occasion its adherence to the award and its enforcement without any possibility of compromise or change,” said Locsin.

“The award is non-negotiable,” he added.

Locsin noted that the ruling, which was “initiated and overwhelmingly won” by the Philippines, is a contribution of great significance and consequence to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea and to the peace and stability of the region at large.

Likewise, the arbitration award conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.

“As a reaffirmation of UNCLOS, and by laying down an authoritative interpretation of key UNCLOS provisions such as Article 121(3), the award is a milestone in the corpus of international law, the cornerstone of a rules-based regional and international order,” Locsin said.

He stressed that China’s ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law, adding that China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights.

“The Tribunal ruled that certain actions within the Philippines’ EEZ violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and were thus unlawful; that large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands caused severe environmental harm in violation of international conventions; that the large-scale harvesting of endangered marine species damaged the marine ecosystem; and that actions taken since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the disputes,” Locsin said.

The DFA, then, urged China to comply in good faith with the award.

“Compliance in good faith with the award would be consistent with the obligations of the Philippines and China under international law, including UNCLOS to which both parties are signatories,” he said.

“Today we commemorate the issuance of the award as a celebration of the rule of law as a means to settle disputes amicably, achieve peace, advance a rules-based and equitable international order, foster cooperation amongst friendly, responsible and civilized nations and clearly mark out who would be in the wrong to insist on claims contrary to this award,” Locsin added.

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