Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty’

Chinese envoy: Philippines not our province

July 17, 2018
Chinese envoy: Philippines not our province, not now, not ever

Audrey Morallo ( – July 17, 2018 – 5:24pm

MANILA, Philippines —  The Philippines has never been and would never be a province of China, the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines said on Tuesday, as President Rodrigo Duterte stressed that Beijing did not ask Manila to cede even “one square” of its territory in exchange for its help.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Xiao Jinhua said that the recent posting of tarpaulins introducing the country as a province of China to visitors was a “vicious attack” on the two countries’ relations and Duterte’s so-called independent foreign policy.

Chinese envoy to the Philippines Xiao Jinhua, right, said that the Philippines was not and would not be a province of China.

Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi Jr., File


“It has never been any part of China. As a matter of fact you know,” Xiao told reporters when asked about his comment on the posting of the banners

“No, not now, not ever,” the Chinese envoy said.

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Tarpaulins bearing the words, “Welcome to the Philippines, province of China” were seen hanging from several footbridges in Metro Manila on Thursday last week, the second anniversary of the country’s victory over Beijing in its arbitration case filed before a Hague-based tribunal.

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The banners had the Chinese flag and Chinese characters.

This also came when Duterte himself “joked” before an audience which included the Chinese envoy that the country could become a province of its northern powerful neighbor.

“He (Xi Jinping) is a man of honor. They can even make us ‘Philippines, province of China,’ we will even avail of services for free,” Duterte said. “If China were a woman, I’d woo her.”


Although they were “bad,” the banners were not offensive to China, Xiao clarified.

He also stressed that Chinese aid and loans to the Philippines would not snare Manila in its “debt trap” as these were based on “mutual agreement.”

The Chinese envoy said that the Philippines would not be indebted to Beijing because of its aid, adding that the government’s economic team is “smart enough.”

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“That is simply the decision by your government to use the soft loans and the infrastructure project will be undertaken by a Chinese company through limited bidding process. There is no mention or no avenue for ownership, your government will own all those projects. So there will be no question of putting yourself in debt,” Xiao said.

The chief executive meanwhile stressed that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, did not ask for the Philippines to surrender its territorial claims in exchange for China’s help.

He emphasized that both sides would discuss the 2016 arbitral award which invalidated much of China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea “in some other time.”

“Allow China, we will allow them the sufficient period to sort out things. China will be fair, the equity will be distributed,” the president said.



The huge build-up of Chinese military on some seven militarized island-bases near the Philippines poses a kind of “Sword of Damocles” over every action the Philippine government takes. That unspoken coercion makes the Philippines the “beholden” junior partner to China…. That is why the Chinese bases are there and they seem to be having the impact the Chinese expected them to have, especially over Vietnam and the The Philippines. This is the devious way China does “business.”

Peace and Freedom



See also:

China won’t allow Philippines to fall into a ‘debt trap’: envoy




Philippines denies inaction on South China Sea

July 17, 2018
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‘We file protests but we do it quietly’

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said it has been asserting the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea after a nationwide poll suggested that four out of five Filipinos reject the government’s perceived inaction on the issue.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly declared that he would not give up the country’s territory.

“The government of President Duterte is not guilty of inaction,” Roque told radio station dzRH.

( – July 16, 2018 – 4:04pm

“Whenever China does something that violates our sovereignty, we file protests but we do it quietly,” he added.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has said in the past the the Philippines has filed “50-100” protests with China, a claim that administration critics like Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon doubt.

Roque stressed that the president would not quarrel with China over the dispute because it would not benefit ties between Manila and Beijing.

“He (Duterte) believes we can set aside temporarily the things that cannot be resolved immediately. We can pursue those that can be pursued like the economy,” he added.

A Social Weather Stations survey conducted from June 27 to 30 found 81 percent of Filipinos believing that the government should not “leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence” in Philippine-claimed areas in the South China Sea.

RELATED: Philippines now ‘willing victim’ in South China Sea dispute, Del Rosario laments

Eight out of ten Filipinos believe it is right for the government to strengthen the military capability of the Philippines, SWS said.

About seven out of ten or 74 percent of respondents think it is right for the government to bring the issue to international organizations while 73 percent back “direct, bilateral negotiations between the Philippines and China.”

Meanwhile, 68 percent of Filipinos believe the government should ask other countries to mediate the issue.

Roque said all Filipinos, not just 81 percent of them, should oppose inaction on the maritime dispute.

“It should be 100 percent because there is no government inaction…Five out of five Filipinos should protest inaction because it is not true that President Duterte is not doing anything,” the presidential spokesman said.

RELATED: Chinese took Filipino fishers’ catch as ‘barter exchange,’ Duterte explains

“We are just not making noise but we have an immediate action if we think China is violating our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he added.

Roque said Duterte, who has been accused of being too soft on China, is continuously fighting for the interests of the Philippines.

Critics have accused Duterte of abandoning the Philippines’ maritime claims in the South China Sea in exchange for military and economic assistance from China

Duterte has denied this and has given assurance that he would discuss the South China Sea row with Chinese officials within his term. The president has also admitted that the Philippines would be courting “trouble” if it insists on its maritime claims, a claim that critics say paint war as the country’s only option.  — Alexis Romero

RELATED: With mere words, Duterte can lose to China rights Philippines won in arbitral ruling




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

Philippines can Still Recover Sovereignty, Dignity, Resources in the South China Sea

July 16, 2018
Commentary: Time to recover from failure to use the South China Sea ruling as leverage
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By Dindo Manhit ( – July 16, 2018 – 3:26pm

During the second anniversary of our nation’s victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, the Stratbase ADR Institute gathered international experts, key stakeholders from the academe, government, and the private sector to discuss the consequences of the policy of appeasement that the administration had taken, in addition to the threats against and opportunities within the international rules-based order.

Brahma Chellaney, professor of Strategic Studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, said that “compliance with or defiance of international rules has no correlation to state size.” He noted that China’s defiance has heightened international concerns about the security of maritime domain.

The Philippine victory at the Arbitral Tribunal is concrete proof that small nations like the Philippines can make our voices heard in a rules-based regime.

He said that as far as China was concerned international law matters only when it serves their interest.

The current administration has failed to use the landmark ruling that invalidated China’s “historic claims” on the South China Sea as a leverage to claim what is ours and fully explore and use the abundant resources in the West Philippine Sea.

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Instead, amid friendlier relations, China continued its military build-up in the South China Sea. They continue to destroy our marine resources, dictate the rules of the sea and bully our poor fishermen who are just making a livelihood in the Scarborough Shoal.

Dr. Go Ito of Meiji University asserted that the Philippines can better enforce the award by engaging like-minded partners like the United States and Japan to support the 2016 decision. He also noted that issues related to environmental protection in the South China Sea and maritime areas can also be raised to counter China.

What Filipinos want

In its effort to appease China and generate much-needed capital to finance its ambitious infrastructure program, the Duterte administration has adopted “silent diplomacy,” which prevents it from protesting the belligerent behavior of China in the South China Sea.

This is against the wishes of the majority of Filipinos, who clamor for a different approach. They want the Duterte administration to protect its territorial integrity and defend its claims in the West Philippine Sea. The results of a recent Pulse Asia survey showed that 73 percent of Filipinos want the current administration to assert our rights and protect our territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

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On the other hand, 36 percent of the Filipinos want our government to file a diplomatic protest against China amidst the reports of its continued militarization of the South China Sea. In addition, 22 percent believed that there is a need to strengthen military alliance with other countries such as the United States, Japan and Australia.The national survey by the Social Weather Stations likewise confirms these findings with four out five Filipinos or 81 percent saying that it is not right to do nothing about China’s intrusion in claimed territories.

The Filipinos are now taking their stand to protect our territorial integrity. Moreover, they want our government to do what it should do—use diplomatic protests as an expression of our dissatisfaction on various cases.

While the president reiterates that we need China to boost trade, tourism and infrastructural development, a small percentage of Filipinos believe that friendlier relations will promote stability in the South China Sea.

The surveys affirm a strong patriotism among Filipinos, that they want to protest against all unlawful and coercive practices of other states.

The Philippines is for the Filipinos to enjoy, benefit and explore. We should never allow others states to enhance its political and economic power at our expense.

We must protest what is unlawful, coercive and contrary to the correct principles that govern relations between states. Our people deserves a government that is willing to fight for their citizens’ future and not a government that is helpless and weak.

We must defend what is ours now before it is too late.


Dindo Manhit is the president of think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, a partner of




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.

73% of Filipinos want gov’t to assert South China Sea rights

July 13, 2018
To the question, “How much do you agree or disagree with the statement? The Duterte administration should assert our right and protect our territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea as stipulated in the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration,” most of the 1,800 respondents agreed.

Edd Gumban
Ghio Ong (The Philippine Star) – July 13, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Seventy-three percent of Filipinos want the Duterte administration to assert the country’s rights in the South China Sea, according to Pulse Asia’s latest sruvey.

To the question, “How much do you agree or disagree with the statement? The Duterte administration should assert our right and protect our territorial sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea as stipulated in the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration,” most of the 1,800 respondents agreed.

Of the number, 46 percent said they “strongly agree,” while 27 percent “somewhat agree.”

Seventeen percent of the respondents said they may either agree or disagree with the question raised in the survey.

Only four percent “somewhat disagree” and three-percent “strongly disagree” or opposed the matter.

Two percent admitted they had limited knowledge about the topic, while 0.4 percent have no idea about it.

Pulse Asia released the results of the survey, conducted last June 15 to 25, on the second anniversary of the Philippines’ winning its case before the arbitral tribunal in The Hague.

On the other hand, two of 10 Pinoys “want Duterte gov’t to continue befriending China” despite disputes in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, the survey revealed.

Of the respondents, 21 percent said the government must “continue the current action of befriending China to avoid conflict between the Philippines and China” when asked what should be the Duterte administration’s position on China’s continued militarization of territories in the West Philippine Sea, Pulse Asia noted.

On the other hand, 36 percent of the respondents believed that the Duterte administration should “file a diplomatic protest with the Chinese embassy in the Philippines and stress the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration last 2016 that the islands in the West Philippine Sea are Philippine territory,” the survey showed.

Meanwhile, 22 percent of the respondents said the government must “strengthen military alliance of the Philippines with other countries such as the United States, Japan and Australia,” while 16 percent agreed that it must “strengthen the Philippines’ military capability to protect our territories.”

Some 0.3 percent said the government must declare war on China, while four percent said they have limited idea about the topic and 0.01 percent had other things to say which the survey findings did not disclose.



South China Sea: Albert del Rosario, Justice Antonio Carpio do not ‘fully comprehend the nature of arbitration,’ Philippine Government says

July 12, 2018

Does Philippine sovereignty matter? Is it meaningless?

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario and other individuals do not ‘fully comprehend the nature of arbitration’

FRIENDSHIP FORWARD. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. Malacañang file photo

FRIENDSHIP FORWARD. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines under the Duterte administration continues to defend its rights over the West Philippine Sea even as he said there is no need to enforce the landmark ruling won by the country against China.

“I’m not sure what they mean by enforcing an arbitral decision because an arbitral decision is binding on parties thereto,” said Roque on Thursday, July 12, the 2nd anniversary of the historic Hague ruling.

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario urge the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China's bombers in the South China Sea. File photos by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario

Asked by Rappler if he means there is no need for enforcement, Roque said in a message: “Who will enforce? It’s self-executory as it’s binding on parties thereto.”

“We continue to assert our sovereignty and sovereign rights, but we have decided to move on on issues that are non-controversial,” he said in a press conference.

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He questioned the call of former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario for the Duterte administration to enforce the ruling.

“I don’t know what makes him an authority to give that view…. It clearly underscores the fact that some individuals, including the former secretary of foreign affairs, [do] not fully comprehend the nature of arbitration,” said Roque. (READ: How to enforce Hague ruling? PH lead counsel explains)

It was under Del Rosario’s watch as Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) chief when the Philippines took China to court.

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Roque, asked why he thinks Del Rosario does not understand the nature of arbitration, said: “Because he’s calling for enforcement when clearly arbitration is binding…. Whether or not China will acknowledge it, China is bound by it because that is the nature of arbitration.”

However, China’s refusal to acknowledge the ruling, coupled with the Philippines’ decision to shelve it for later, has made the ruling ineffective in changing the situation on the ground.

Despite the ruling, China continues its military buildup in the West Philippine Sea and harassment of Filipino fishermen in areas declared by the decision as common fishing grounds. –


UK Pro-Brexit Crowd fears ‘biggest loss of sovereignty’ since 1973

July 11, 2018

Retaining benefits of single market will mean concessions on common rules

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Prime minister Edward Heath, centre, Geoffrey Rippon, left, and Alec Douglas-Home with the European Community accession treaty in 1972 © Getty

By Alex Barker in Brussels JULY 9, 2018 

Is Brexit Britain “truly headed for the status of colony”?

Boris Johnson’s incendiary claim in his resignation letter voiced the anguish of Brexiters who fear leaving the EU may erode Westminster’s decision-making power rather than restore it.

Theresa May’s plan for a softer Brexit would, in their eyes, entail the UK giving up more influence over the substance of some national laws than it did on joining the European Community in 1973.

It is a far cry from the “take back control” promises of the Brexit referendum. In the words of David Davis, the former minister in charge of negotiations, any return of sovereignty may merely be “illusory”.

Mrs May dismisses such claims, insisting her proposals for common rule book with the EU is limited to goods and agricultural products, involves no direct jurisdiction of European judges and, crucially, is dependent on the explicit and continuing consent of the UK parliament.

But to many in Brussels and Whitehall, the UK prime minister’s plan is just the start of a broader policy shift. To pass muster with EU leaders, her vision for Britain continuing to retain the benefits of the customs union and single market will inevitably require additional concessions on rule-taking, covering goods and services.

Sir Ivan Rogers, Mrs May’s former EU ambassador, said that, far from enhancing control, such a model would “result in the biggest loss of UK sovereignty since accession in 1973”.

The problem for Mrs May, he added, is that the main alternative of a Canada-style free trade agreement is one she “finally understands cannot deliver near frictionless trade” and that would carry serious economic costs. “She is therefore caught between two intolerable options,” Sir Ivan said.

What UK resignations mean for May and Brexit

Diplomats in Brussels have long been baffled by what they see as a false Westminster debate over control. For many smaller EU member states, pooling sovereignty in the EU in practice amplified their influence over common rules and common institutions.

Even if Britain broke free of Brussels’ regulatory orbit, EU officials confidently predict the sheer size of the EU market will mean British exporters routinely comply with EU-set standards.

“There is no such thing as a sovereign country any more,” said one EU government official handling Brexit. “It is an illusion the Brits are all chasing, but it has gone.” Another EU Brexit negotiator compared the British political drama to “tilting at windmills”.

Mrs May’s plan for goods is most similar to Norway’s current arrangements inside the European Economic Area. While Oslo is a separate legal jurisdiction from the EU, it accepts the EU’s body of law for the single market, and has institutions that interpret the rules in line with European Court of Justice rulings.

It has an option to reject new EU laws but has never done so for fear of being cut off from markets.

Stephen Weatherill, professor of law at Oxford university, noted that such an outcome for Britain would diminish its existing influence over decision making, exercised through participation in EU institutions and policymaking.

“Almost everybody before the referendum would have said a Norway-style deal is as bad as it gets,” he said. “It does not achieve the regulatory independence Brexiters want, and offers none of the influence [over the EU]. But we are where we are.”

Some veteran Brexiters such as Christopher Booker, a journalist, and Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament, have championed a Norway or Switzerland-style arrangement as a sensible stepping stone for Brexit Britain.

One potential issue is that Britain may not secure even the limited freedoms Norway enjoys.

One EU negotiator noted that Norway’s liberal option to diverge under the EEA agreement would probably never be granted to a big economy such as the UK. “British officials should look at the reality of how the EEA works,” said the official, referring to Oslo’s record of compliance. “Norway is Norway.”

Mr Davis pointed out that there would not only be an economic lock on Britain diverging — the loss of market access — but a political lock. A decision to reject EU laws on goods could trigger a backstop arrangement to prevent a hard border for Northern Ireland that many Tories would see as dividing the UK.

Ulf Sverdrup of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs notes that some of the biggest difficulties for the EEA have not been over policies but the arrangements to manage the relationship.

These involve the decision-making process, dispute settlement and the mechanism for revising common laws. “These are the hardest issues,” he said. “And they are not even covered yet in the UK paper.”

On a day of two resignations from the UK cabinet, Mr Sverdrup emphasised how important it was for Norway to build a wide consensus around its chosen model, which goes beyond one political party.

“Everybody embraced the agreement with the EU and that made it very stable,” he said. “Nobody really like it but it was the best they could find. All these kind of compromises tend to be very stinky.”


Philippines’ Duterte sees lowest rating since becoming president: survey

July 10, 2018

Satisfaction in Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte fell to the lowest of his presidency since coming into office in 2016, an independent survey showed on Tuesday.

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FILE PHOTO: Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte 

Net satisfaction, used by pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) as a rating of the president’s performance, was down 11 points from the first quarter to 45 in the survey of 1,200 Filipinos conducted in the last week of June.

It was the president’s lowest rating in eight surveys taken since 2016. In the first quarter of this year, Duterte’s rating slipped to 56 percent from 58 percent in December 2017.

The president was unfazed by the drop in his ratings.

“I don’t care, it does not interest me at all,” Duterte told a news conference north of Manila.

The survey was taken during the week when Duterte attacked the Catholic Church and called God “stupid” after bishops and priests criticized the killing of drug suspects in the government’s anti-narcotics campaign.

“It was an unnecessary remark, it really affected his ratings,” said analyst Earl Parreno of the Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms.

“The rising prices and unemployment also had an impact, but this is only temporary. He has to repair his relations with the bishops and rebuild his image,” Parreno said.

Duterte met with the head of the Catholic Bishops group on Monday, promising to refrain from attacking the Church.

The SWS survey did not ask respondents to explain their rating for Duterte, who took office in June 2016. Duterte had enjoyed high satisfaction ratings since coming to office, peaking at 66 in June 2017.

Based on the SWS methodology for satisfaction ratings, a score of 70 and above is considered excellent, 50 to 69 is very good, 30-49 good and 10-29 moderate.


Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Darren Schuettler


Theresa May has put her own survival ahead of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom

July 8, 2018

The Prime Minister’s proposal is also an existential threat to the future of the European Union. This isn’t over.

When I first saw those incendiary leaks of Theresa May’s proposal last Thursday which neatly erased the significant red lines of her own Brexit policy, I thought this was either the most aggressive, uncharacteristically reckless provocation to her dangerous Cabinet colleagues imaginable – or else it was a set-up.

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What was it that Theresa May spoke about with Angela Merkel at that curious meeting in Germany?CREDIT: MARKUS SCHREIBER/ AP

Yes, that was surely it: this had to be a deliberate, belligerent challenge from which she could then make a few tactical retreats at the theatrical Chequers event. That way, the Brexiteers could emerge claiming they had won concessions and she could maintain that her position…

South China Sea: Time for a different Philippine narrative on maritime dispute with China

July 7, 2018

Since the stunning victory over China in 2016, the official story has been defeatist

Soon, it will be two years since the Philippines overwhelmingly won in its maritime dispute against China. But during this time, the official narrative in the Philippines has been one with strong defeatist tones.

By Marites Dañguilan Vitug


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From Day 1, July 12, 2016, when the international arbitral tribunal issued its decision invalidating China’s 9-dash line and clarifying the status of certain features in the South China Sea, this ruling has never been given the national attention it deserved. It has not been used as leverage in the country’s dealings with China. It has not been in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ talking points.

It has not been part of the country’s diplomatic arsenal.

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Yes, we won, officials say, but…

  • China is our source of economic deliverance. China will rebuild war-torn Marawi. China will invest heavily in the government’s “Build, Build, Build”
    program. Millions of Chinese tourists will boost our tourism industry. China is our new source of weapons.
  • China is a dear friend who, unlike the European Union, is nonchalant about the deadly drug war that has killed thousands and has led to a crushing wave of impunity.

These buts drown out the gains of July 12, 2016, weakening the Philippine position, making our country’s voice part of the chorus of approval of China in the region.

Let us not be taken by the official story. It’s time to talk about a different narrative.

Let’s go back to the story of Philippines vs. China, the historic arbitration case that reverberated in various parts of the world. As a law professor from the University of Geneva said, “July 12, 2016 is a date that will remain etched in the history of international adjudication.”

Let’s go back to the almost two decades of back-and-forth with Beijing when our diplomats asserted Philippine rights over parts of the South China Sea – only to be rebuffed with its stock response that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over this vast area.

Let’s hear from our scholars, experts, and diplomats on how to make use of our legal victory and start a national conversation on this crucial issue.

Historic case

In my new book, Rock Solid: How the Philippines won its maritime case against China, I tell the story of this victory that gave the country so much – a maritime area larger than the total land area of the Philippines, rich in resources – but has since been disregarded by the government.

First of all, the case is historic. It is the first to interpret the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) definitions of rocks, islands, and low-tide elevations; the first case to be filed by a South China Sea claimant state against China; and it is the first case to address the scope and application of the Unclos provision on protection and preservation of the environment.

This book addresses why President Benigno Aquino III took China to Court. Among others, he particularly remembered the quip of one ASEAN senior leader: “There are big countries and there are small countries. That’s the way of the world.” He mulled over this and thought that it was precisely the law that would serve as the great equalizer.

With this as anchor – the law as the great equalizer – Aquino decided, with the approval of the Cabinet, the leaders of Congress and two past presidents, to sue China.

In January 2013, the Philippines began its legal battle. It filed a “notification of statement and claim.”

More than year later, the Philippines submitted its memorial, like a plea, which reached more than 3,000 pages. It was a product of massive research in history, international law, geology, hydrography, marine biodiversity, and cartography. This included 10 volumes of annexes, which contained maps, nautical charts, expert reports, witnesses’ affidavits, historical records, and official communications.

Almost two decades of written exchanges between the Philippines and China, including notes verbale, were made public. Intelligence reports of the Navy, the Western Command of the Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defense were also submitted to the tribunal.

This was a first in the country: that diplomatic cables and intelligence documents were revealed to the public, a fascinating trove of our diplomatic history.

The Philippine story also unfolds in the transcripts of the oral hearings in The Hague which capture the essential points of the case. Paul Reichler and his team at Foley Hoag used the richly-documented diplomatic history of the Philippines-China dispute in their arguments before the tribunal.

These transcripts, the Philippine memorial, the awards (or the tribunal’s decisions) on jurisdiction and merit are accessible reading to non-lawyers like me. They can be downloaded from the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

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Despite the stunning victory, why was the Philippines so glum about a historic ruling that was on its side? Why did it choose to bury a euphoric moment instead of using the victory to galvanize a nation?

The answer lay in the country’s new president, Rodrigo Duterte. He held a different view: his heart and mind were with China.

The Duterte government has taken a defeatist stance despite the immensity of what the Philippines had gained from the ruling. Duterte once said that the Philippines was “helpless” in the face of China’s might. For him, the choices in dealing with China were extreme, either to talk or to go to war. He has framed foreign policy in a false dichotomy.

While the story of Philippines vs. China offers hope and inspiration, it is the aftermath that offers more challenges. Rock Solid gives a few prescriptions on how to make the tribunal’s decision work, but there are definitely more ideas out there worth exploring.

Many have said that international pressure can encourage the implementation of the award – but friendly countries have to take the lead from the Philippines.

In the region, the award benefited not only the Philippines but other Southeast Asian states which have made claims to parts of the South China Sea. It was clear from the ruling, as Reichler explained, that “if China’s nine-dash line is invalid as to the Philippines, it is equally invalid to other states bordering the South China Sea like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and the rest of the international community.”

Making the tribunal ruling work and seeing it come to fruition, partly or fully, will take a long time, way beyond a single president’s term. It will require strategic thinking anchored on a strong sense of justice, equity, and sovereign rights. –


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Philippines: Draft Federal Constitution Charter Asserts Sovereignty over Philippine Rise

July 3, 2018
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Establishing clear and distinct sovereignty over the country’s territory was among the highlights of the proposed federal Constitution.

The 22-member consultative committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution has approved the final draft of the proposed Charter, which will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Patricia Lourdes Viray (

July 3, 2018 – 12:40pm

One noticeable revision in the Article I (National Territory) of the Constitution is the inclusion of the Benham or Philippine Rise in the article.

The Philippine Rise is a 13-million hectare underwater plateau off the coast of Aurora. The region has never been subject to any maritime boundary disputes and claims.

Section 2, Article 1 of the draft federal Constitution states that:

The Philippines has sovereign rights over that maritime expanse beyond its territorial sea to the extend reserved to it by international law, as well as over its extended continental shelf, including the Philippine Rise. Its citizens shall enjoy the right to all resources within these areas.

The draft Constitution also asserts the Philippines’ sovereignty over territories belonging to the country through historic right.

Section 1, Article 1 of the draft Charter states:

The Philippines has sovereignty over its territory, consisting of the islands ans waters encompassed by its archipelagic baselines, its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the continental shelf, and its airspace. It has sovereignty over islands and features outside its archipelagic baselines pursuant to the laws of the Federal Republic, the law of nations and the judgments of competent international courts or tribunals. It likewise has sovereignty over other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right or legal title.

In 2012, the United Nations on the Limits of the Continental Shelf granted the submission of the Philippines to include Benham Rise as part of its extended continental shelf.

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Chinese coast guard vessels are frequently seen near the Philippines

Earlier this year, Duterte ordered the halt of all marine explorations and studies by foreign scientists in the undersea region to prioritize Filipino scientists conducting research in the region.

The order, however, came after China finished its marine scientific research in the area.

While Duterte barred foreign exploration in Benham Rise, the Philippine lost its bid to reverse the approval of Chinese proposals to name undersea features as Haidongqing Seamount, Jinghao Seamount, Tianbao Seamount, Jujiu Seamounts and Cuiqiao Hill.

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