Reaction on Arbitration Court's Verdict on West Philippine Sea

International Arbitration Court Ruling favors the Philippines’ claim on the (West Philippine Sea) Scarborough Shoal.

According to DLSU professor Richard Heydarian on Foreign Affairs/Economic Analyst the verdict of the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal is binding – especially to the members of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on Laws of the Seas). Philippines and China are among the consenting signatory members.

Non-participation of the one of the parties involved in the claim dispute in the proceedings (despite the repeated invitation), like in the case of China (as Prof. Heydaria said) – does not nullifies anything, the verdict remains VALID.

The decision gave us OFFICIAL LEGAL CLAIM over the disputed territories. However, it was mentioned by Prof. Heydarian that it was just a Court and NO ENFORCEMENT capability.  The advantage is that the allied members of UNCLOS know about it, we can somehow expect backing.

Gauging the current situation in the disputed territories where China has built a lot of structures and has assigned naval forces to monitor therein (EVEN WITHOUT THE INTERNATIONAL RULING on who is the rightful owner) it would not be an EASY task.  President Duterte does not want to make a severe move on this but instead plans to have BILATERAL meeting with the Chinese Officials, as of this date DFA Sec. Perfecto Yasay and former President Fidel V. Ramos are among his choices of diplomats to work on this. Us, becoming excited and be sending our diplomats to negotiate is like kneeling in front of them. The decision is in our favor, they must have felt some humiliation.

I was wondering, when the UNCLOS was established is not there a CLEAR RULING on implementation and enforcement of the verdicts this international arbitration court will release? IF THERE IS NONE – I would consider the institution will not be that EFFECTIVE. I consider the UNCLOS half-worthy because its duty lies only in JUDICIAL PROCESS being just a court and INFORMING the members of the final verdict. Is not there Forces (is it not a police matter?! –the InterPol) to implement mandatory evacuation for the squatters?! Is not there an International Security Force to do the job instead of us directly claiming what is ours, to avoid more conflict?  Is it not like an ordinary Court that can issue ‘Court Order’ to HAND BACK the territory to its LEGAL OWNER?! Funny but is there not? We can be assured that UNCLOS can make more decisions in the future BUT will be deemed USELESS unless without IMPLEMENTATING BODY. It was just like a toothless LAW and VERDICT. Is not there a law or punishment dictated in the UNCLOS once an allied country disrespects the court?

No offense to Chinese officials who had accused us  that we had bribed the IAC, they should have been open-minded and should have attended the hearing so that whatever reasons the Court has founded their ruling they would have understood.  There is no reason for IAC to favor us in terms of POWER – they are far more influential than we are. 

If we will not make any move China will add more improvements in the territories and extract more of its natural resources to our disadvantage.  Even the small fishermen will still be thrown away. 

BUT if there is an INTERNATIONAL IMPLEMENTING BODY or at least a ‘COURT ORDER’ from the International Arbitrary Court to be served by its officials to China – it may be the BEST option. No security risk on our part.  We would not need to bargain for our RIGHTS – what to expect IF we do the negotiations? We may have LITTLE gain (or just leftovers) from a supposed-to-be RICH natural resources.

We are hoping that China will respect the FINAL VERDICT and not all of its Government officials have the same view as the public official (?) who have speculated irregularities in the proceedings as shown in the news. More importantly, we hope that China will realize that UNCLOS members will be very much anticipating their reactionif they will RESIST and ignore the International Arbitration Court’s Ruling. This will gauge their gracious or their antagonistic behavior that MAY bring BAD IMPRESSION not just to UNCLOS members but also to worldwide spectators – the contributors to their economy.

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Family, Daily Living & Style by Angelita Galiza-Madera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.