Government Hit for Setting Aside Hague Ruling
MANILA, Philippines - Two members of the government’s legal team in the arbitration case against China yesterday slammed the Duterte administration for apparently ignoring the award they won for the country.
Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio and former solicitor general Florin Hilbay both criticized the policy taken by the administration on the issue following the country’s victory before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).
“I was aghast that the President used the term ‘setting aside’ (the PCA award),” Carpio said at a forum marking the first anniversary of the ruling.
Carpio said he was not satisfied with the soft stance taken by the Duterte administration to prevent China’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
Carpio suggested the government should file another arbitral case against China’s action in the contested areas.
He believes China is using a strategy to control the South China Sea without using force and would only sign a Code of Conduct being pushed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations after completing its naval base in the contested areas.
Hilbay, for his part, expressed disappointment over the current administration’s apparent foot-dragging over the issue against China.
Hilbay said the administration continued to ignore continuing Chinese aggression in the contested areas despite winning the case before the United Nations-backed tribunal.
“The current administration seems to have adopted a policy of defeatism and a mindset of non-enforcement of the award. Filipinos haven’t seen any forward movement for the Philippines and there has been no pushback against China’s continued aggression,” he said.
“The first anniversary of the tribunal’s award marks a year of disappointment after disappointment after our victory at The Hague,” Hilbay lamented.
In its award issued on July 12 last year, the PCA upheld major submissions of the Philippines, including the declaration of China’s nine-dash line as contrary to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and having no legal basis. (www.philstar.com)