By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, July 3 (PNA) – Malacanang on Friday reiterated that the Philippines’ decision to bring its case before the arbitral tribunal is in line with the country’s commitment to resolve peacefully the dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
”The PHL believes that its filing is in line with our commitment to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner and one that follows and respects the Rule of Law,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing.
Valte said the statement of China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying calling the arbitration case against China as a political provision “is expected given their position not to defend their actions before the tribunal.”
China has argued that the arbitral tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to decide the case.
In March this year, the Philippines bolstered its case by submitting 3,000-page additional documents, rebutting China’s claim that the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) does not have the jurisdiction to decide on WPS complaints.
The ITCLOS is scheduled to conduct a hearing next week in The Hague, The Netherlands to address China’s position paper on the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal on the maritime dispute.
Valte gave to the media some of the names that will compose the high-level Philippines delegation to The Hague.
They, she said, are Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Supreme Court (SC) Justice Francis Jardeleza.
”The Executive Secretary (Francis Ochoa Jr.) has already left for Amsterdam to meet with our lawyer,” Valte said.
Valte said National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will also be in attendance.
”It clearly shows the support of government for the case across the board. It’s not only the Executive, it’s the legislative, it’s also the judiciary. It’s a country effort,” Valte said.
Valte clarified that the hearing will deal with the issue whether the tribunal has jurisdiction over the complaint.
”This is not yet a hearing on the merits of the case,” Valte said. (PNA)