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PHL transmits new batch of crucial documents vs. China to The Hague tribunal


The Philippines submitted on Monday a crucial document containing additional volumes of arguments, evidence and maps seeking to nullify China’s sweeping claim over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the government has transmitted to The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration its 3,000-page response to additional questions raised by the tribunal over Manila’s case against China.

Philippine officials said the additional questions raised by the tribunal meant that the case was actively moving forward even without China’s participation.

On Dec. 16, 2014, the five-member tribunal operating under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has given the Philippines up to March 16 to submit the package of documents, known in international arbitration parlance as “supplemental submission.”

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Jose said the submission, consisting of 12 volumes and totaling over 3,000 pages, has “detailed responses and extensive additional information.”

“Volume one consists of 200 pages of written argument. Volume two consists of 200-page atlas containing detailed information about pertinent islands, reefs and other features in the South China Sea,” he said.

Manila’s arbitration case, the first such complaint against China over contested territories in the South China Sea, has been dismissed by Beijing, but praised by many foreign governments, including the United States, as a durable legal solution to the long unresolved maritime conflicts. Other claimants to the resource-rich waters are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

PHL case

The Philippines, which filed the case on March 2013, argued that China’s massive claim or its so-called nine-dash line – a tongue-shaped encirclement that covers nearly the entire South China Sea, including those within Manila's territories – did not conform with UNCLOS and was therefore invalid on the basis of the internationally-accepted maritime laws.

Jose said the country’s submission “relates to issues concerning both the tribunal’s jurisdiction and the merits of its claims, including its principle claim challenging the lawfulness of China’s so-called nine-dash line.”

“The Philippines is confident that the answers to the tribunal’s questions leave no doubt that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the case and that the Philippines’ claims including its particular claims concerning the nine-dash line are well-founded in fact and law,”  he said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario last week said the Philippines’ reply was completed with the help of the government’s Washington-based legal counsel.

“Preparing such extensive submission in such short order required substantial effort and coordination from relevant concerned agencies,” Jose said, as he conveyed the government’s appreciation for the “evident care and attention” that “the tribunal is giving to this case as reflected by the scope and detail” of their questions.

China: No comment

Chinese embassy officials in Manila declined to issue a statement when sought for comment.

“The Chinese position has been expressed by our foreign ministry spokesperson before,” embassy spokesman Li Lingxao said.

China, Jose said, will still be given a chance to answer the Philippine submission even as it declared several times that it will not join the legal proceedings.

“After that we will anticipate that there will oral arguments sometime in July and after that we anticipate that the court will hand down its decision in 2016,” he said. —KBK, GMA News