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Tribunal gives China until August 17 to make case.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands wrapped up hearings on Manila's territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea Tuesday (July 14) and gave China until August 17 to comment in writing on issues on jurisdiction and admissibility of its case presented before the Tribunal.

China has not recognized the jurisdiction of the PCA as venue to resolve the territorial dispute but the five-man Tribunal decided to provide China with the opportunity to comment in line with its duty under Article 5 of Annex VII to the Convention to "assure each party a full opportunity to be heard and to present its case."

The Tribunal also gave the PH until July 23 to submit further written responses to questions posed by the Arbitral Tribunal during the hearing.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte.said "the hearing concluded with the second round of arguments conducted today (July 14) for the Philippines to address additional and clarificatory questions from the Tribunal. Solicitor General Florin Hilbay delivered the closing statement."

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana. The other members are Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Professor Alfred Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge RAaAaAeA diger Wolfrum of German

It held the first round of arguments last July 7 and 8 when the Philippines presented its case asserting its maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.


Because of the territorial dispute pending resolution before the Arbitral Tribunal, Google quietly removed the Chinese name of Scarborough Shoal from its maps service following an outcry from Filipinos.

The service earlier labeled the shoal as part of China's Zhongsha island chain, prompting an online campaign demanding that the Internet giant stop identifying the outcrop as part of Chinese territory.

''We've updated Google Maps to fix the issue. We understand that geographic names can raise deep emotions which is why we worked quickly once this was brought to our attention,'' Google's office in Manila said in a statement.

Scarborough Shoal lies 220 kilometres (140 miles) off the main Philippine island of Luzon and 650 kilometres from Hainan island, the nearest major Chinese land mass.

China has controlled the shoal since 2012, following a brief standoff with the Philippines.

Since then, the Philippines has accused the Chinese coast guard of harassing Filipino fishermen at the shoal, including robbing them of their catch at gunpoint earlier this year.

Campaigns website began a petition last week to get Google Maps to drop the Chinese name of the shoal on its site. The petition drew close to 2,000 supporters.

''China's sweeping claim of (the) South China Sea under their nine-dash line purportedly historical boundary is illegal and is creating tension among nations,'' the petition read.

''Google maps showing this is part of Zhongsha island chain gives credence to what is plainly a territory grab that peace loving nations should stand against.''


The Tribunal has now entered its deliberations after concluding the hearings on jurisdiction and admissibility of the Philippines memorial seeking to invalidate China's nine-dash line and question the status of certain maritime features in the South China Sea.

"To avoid unnecessary delay and expense and to provide a fair and efficient process," the Arbitral Tribunal said it will "endeavor to issue its decision on such issues of Jurisdiction and Admissibility that it determines appropriate as soon as possible and expects to do so before the end of the year."

"If the Arbitral Tribunal determines that there are jurisdictional objections or issues of admissibility that do not possess an exclusively preliminary character, then, in accordance with Article 20(3) of the Rules of Procedure, such matters will be reserved for consideration and decision at a later stage of the proceedings," it said in a statement posted in its official website.

For the time being, the Philippines and China will have until July 20 to review and submit corrections to the transcripts of the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility which will eventually be made available on the PCA's website. By July 23, the Philippines will submit further written responses to the questions posed by the Arbitral Tribunal during the hearing.


In his introductory remarks at the opening of the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario stressed China is not entitled to exercise what it refers to as "historic rights" over the waters, seabed and subsoil beyond the limits of its entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China's so-called "nine-dash line" , he declared has no basis whatsoever under international law insofar as it purports to define the limits of China's claim to "historic rights" and that the various maritime features relied upon by China as a basis upon which to assert its claims in the South China Sea are not islands that generate entitlement to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or continental shelf. Rather, some are rocks others are low-tide elevations; and still others are permanently submerged. As a result, none are capable of generating entitlements beyond 12 miles, and some generate no entitlements at all. China's recent massive reclamations activities cannot lawfully change the original nature and character of these features.

China, Del Rosario added breached UNCLOS by interfering with the Philippines' exercise of its sovereign rights and jurisdiction and irreversibly damaged the regional marine environment by its destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippines' EEZ by its destructive and hazardous fishing practices, and by its harvesting of endangered species.

"In submitting this case, the Philippines is not asking the Tribunal to rule on the territorial sovereignty aspect of its disputes with China. We are here because we wish to clarify our maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, a question over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction," Del Rosario said.

The PCA is an intergovernmental organization established by the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. It facilitates arbitration, conciliation, fact-finding and other dispute resolution proceedings among various combinations of States, State entities, intergovernmental organizations, and private parties.

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:0PACI
Date:Jul 15, 2015
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