Gov’t asked to invoke arbitral win on WPS

July 12, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 133 views

FIVE years since the issuance of the arbitration ruling in 2016, Magdalo party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III on Monday reiterated the call for the Duterte administration to invoke the arbitral win of the Philippines against China on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) case.

“There has been a lack of recognition, especially from the President, on the merits and power of the Philippines’ win in the Hague on our maritime claims. This attitude of the administration has squandered many opportunities to strengthen our claims. Since 2016, China has been more aggressive knowing that the President would not even buck,” Cabochan said.

“The administration should strongly invoke the arbitration win and should be reflected in its policies and rhetoric. Mayroon tayong bala. Ang problema ay hindi naman ginagamit,” Cabochan added.

Further, Cabochan stressed that it did not help when President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte said in May 2021 that the country’s arbitral victory against China is just a “piece of paper” that he can throw away in the trash bin.

“It is not merely a paper victory. It is a legal affirmation of what is ours and that China’s claims are baseless. For the President to dismiss that the arbitration ruling is just a piece of a paper implies that he does not know or understand how a landmark decision could be harnessed to pursue our national interests,” Cabochan said.

On July 12, 2016, the Arbitral Tribunal issued a unanimous award in favor of the Philippines.

It was deemed illegal for China to claim historic rights to territory and resources in the disputed area under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Cabochan has earlier filed House Bill (HB) No. 1947 which seeks to declare July 12 of every year as a special working holiday to commemorate the country’s victory in the arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea.

“The West Philippine Sea arbitration win should be etched in our history through the proposed WPS Victory Day. The arbitration ruling is a huge win for a small nation like ours which chose to stand against a big nation like China. This day should be a reminder for our nation, especially our leaders, to continue fighting for what is truly ours. Maliwanag na sa atin ang West Philippine Sea,” Cabochan said.

HB 1947 has recently been approved by the House committee on revision of laws in the 18th Congress.