China has no legal basis to assert sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and its “nine-dash line” is invalid, the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal said in a ruling released on Tuesday.
In a statement Tuesday, the Tribunal said China has violated Philippine sovereignty over the disputed territories as well as the latter’s historic rights to resources within the “nine-dash line”.
China has snubbed the case filed by the Philippines, and maintained it would refuse to recognize the proceedings.
The statement said: “Having found that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone,” the tribunal statement said.
It added it was unlawful for China to physically obstruct Philippine vessels from the Spratly Islands and its reefs in the West Philippine Sea.
Philippine officials welcomed the favorable ruling from the Tribunal.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said: “The Philippines welcomes the issuance today, 12 July 2016, of the Award by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the arbitration proceedings initiated by the Philippines with regard to the South China Sea.”
“Our experts are studying the Award with the care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves. In the meantime, we call on all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety.
“The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). The decision upholds international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.
“The Philippines reiterates its abiding commitment to efforts to pursue the peaceful resolution and management of disputes with a view to promoting and enhancing peace and stability in the region,” Yasay said.
Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio said the ruling “re-affirms mankind’s faith in the rule of law in peacefully resolving disputes between States and in rejecting the use or threat of force in resolving such disputes. This rule of law is enshrined in the United Nations Charter.”
“The ruling also re-affirms UNCLOS as the Constitution for the oceans of our planet, a treaty ratified by 167 States, including China and the Philippines. The ruling applies the fundamental law of the sea principle that ‘land dominates the sea,’ that is, any claim to maritime zones must emanate from land and can extend only to the limits prescribed under UNCLOS. No state can claim almost an entire sea contrary to this fundamental principle and maritime limits,” Carpio said.
He added the ruling “further re-affirms the wisdom of the Philippine Constitution in renouncing war as an instrument of national policy, and in adopting international law as part of the laws of Philippines. The ruling manifests the faithful compliance by the Philippine Government to the Philippine Constitution, which mandates that the ‘State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its xxx exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens’.”
Justice Marvic Leonon also welcomed the ruling as a “historic event” that “provides our people under the leadership of our government the opportunity to galvanize international support to assert our sovereignty.”
“The ruling also challenges all parties and the international community’s ability to respect international law in a peaceful manner. I have personally seen the difficulties of communities in these areas and heard the travails of our fishers. This ruling delivers justice for them as well,” Leonen said.
“We should maintain vigilance and do what we can to ensure that the law prevails. It is the peaceful and just way,” he added. (MindaNews)