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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

A look at the Arbitral Ruling after five years

After five years:

“What’s important is the Philippines won”

MANILA – Five years since the arbitral award was given to the Philippines, the country holds on to the decision as a declaratory judgment and is comparable with declaratory relief which simply laid down rules, defined what is right and what is wrong. Such would be the foundation for parties to conduct their relations.

“The declaratory judgement was based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which also vindicates the Philippines’ position which did not accept the historic rights claimed by China,” said UP Law Professor Jay L. Batongbacal over the Wednesday Roundtable @ Lido.

Dr. Chester L. Cabalza, a graduate in Military Diplomacy from the PLA Academy in China said since the arbitral decision, China has ceased to use the nine-dash line in its statements. The Chinese government has also accepted the international agreements related to the freedom of navigation and overflights.

“With the arbitral ruling, the Philippines has utilized it as leverage with our relations with other countries like Russia and India,” Dr. Cabalza said.

However, Beijing was also to use the decision to test their military muscle and has made a number of incursions into Philippine territory.

“We have had flipflopping statements from some government officials,” he added. The professor said the Philippine military is very professional and could carry out their mandate to protect the country’s and people’s interests.

Former Ambassador Alberto A. Encomienda who was head of the now-defunct Maritime and Ocean Affairs Center under the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is true China has toned down its activities in the South China Sea as it reduced its fishing vessels which were arrayed neatly in areas near the Whitsun Reef near Scarborough Shoal.

“China is ramping up on the Taiwan Strait and the recovery of Taiwan when China celebrates its 100 years of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China,” the former career diplomat said. He added China would be more interested in the consolidation of its territory.

Incidentally, Professor Lucio B. Pitlo III said it would be difficult to plan alliance management if we go by six-month extensions as he referred to President Duterte’s decision to suspend the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement by another six months.

“Even well capacitated countries like South Korea and Japan, which both have territorial disputes with China, maintain alliance with the US despite the issues between the previous Trump administration.

“President Joe Biden has said alliances will be a central to the government’s thrusts,” he said.

Atty. Batongbacal said there will always be differences in opinion on issues about the arbitral ruling.

“Senator Leila de Lima is right when she said the case has already been won and debates should not matter because the Philippines won,” he concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

UP Inst. of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Director Atty. Jay L. Batongbacal, Dr. Chester B. Cabalza, Former Ambassador Alberto A. Encomienda and Prof. Lucio B. Pitlo III, sharing their opinions on the 2016 Arbitral Ruling in favor of the Philippines. (Screen grab from Tapatan sa Aristocrat)

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