Palace: PH adheres to law on sea

MALACANANG on Wednesday stressed its adherence to international law and a rules-based resolution to the disputes in the South China Sea in spite of China’s call to drop its arbitration case against it.

“The Philippines affirms its adherence to international law and preference for rules-based resolution of maritime entitlement issues,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a text message to reporters.

“The Philippines has presented its position before the UN’s Permanent Commission on Arbitrations [that] we consider to be the proper forum for the resolution of disputes.”

Coloma made his statement even as China on Wednesday said it will not accept any decision of a United Nations arbitration panel where the Philippines has filed a case to solve the dispute in the South China Sea, describing the proceedings as one-sided and involved “a third party.”

“We are the victim in the maritime dispute and China will oppose any move by the Philippines to initiate and push forward the arbitral proceeding,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in an official statement posted online.

But Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said arbitration was an internationally recognized dispute settlement mechanism, and that it was also provided in UNCLOS.

“The arbitration would have been a good opportunity for china to explain the basis of its nine-dash line claim,” Jose said.

China on Tuesday urged the Philippines to drop its arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute to bring back the good relations between  both countries.

“China urges the Philippines to come back to the right track of resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

The Philippines has asked the United Nations tribunal in The Hague to declare China’s claims to virtually all of the South China Sea invalid, saying Beijing’s actions had trampled on other nations’ rights.

However, China maintained that it “will never accept the unilateral attempts to turn to a third party to solve the disputes.”

China contends the tribunal doesn’t have jurisdiction and has refused to participate in its proceedings.

China offered again to open bilateral negotiations to settle the maritime dispute, which the Philippines rejected.

Hua Chunying said Manila should return to negotiations and consultation with Beijing, which he described as the ‘’right approach’’ of resolving the matter.

Hua said Beijing still opposed Manila’s move to bring the issue to a United Nations-backed tribunal.

“On issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will never accept any imposed solution or unilaterally resorting to a third-party settlement,” Hua said.

Hua said China was in fact the “victim” in the sea dispute, accusing the Philippines of illegally occupying some of the reefs in the South China Sea that Beijing treats as its territory.

“The origin and crux of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea lie in the territorial sovereignty disputes caused by the Philippines’ illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands since the 1970s, and the disputes concerning maritime rights and interests that arose thereafter,” Hua said. 

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