Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 24) — A senator on Thursday pitched ideas on how the Philippines could further affirm its arbitral win on the maritime case against China, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.
“Ang dapat sigurong gawin ng Pilipinas ay number 1, through the DFA, i-explain sa lahat ng ating kababayan natin kung ano ang meaning ng arbitral ruling,” Senator Koko Pimentel, who serves as chairperson of the Senate Committee on International Relations, said in a media briefing.
[Translation: I think what the Philippines needs to do is, number 1, the Department of Foreign Affairs should explain to our fellow Filipinos what the arbitral ruling means.]
He stressed the importance of educating Filipinos on the 2016 ruling of an international tribunal in The Hague, which recognizes the Philippines’ sovereign rights over areas within its exclusive economic zone, so they will be “competent” to talk about the issue when they are in other territories.
“Number 2, the DFA should incorporate the principles in the ruling sa mga pronouncements in all of the conferences they attend,” Pimentel added.
He noted “the one voice that all Filipinos should be saying especially when outside of the country” should come from the DFA.
His suggestions came days after Duterte affirmed the country’s arbitration win against Beijing.
In 2016, the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines on a three-year-old case against China’s claims to virtually all of the South China Sea.
The judgement rejected China’s assertion that it has historically exercised exclusive control over the waters within its “nine-dash line” boundary.
The decision was mainly based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS — an international treaty that sets the limits of countries’ territorial waters and guidelines for the use of marine resources. The Philippines and China are signatories to the treaty.
Among other things, UNCLOS provides countries with a 200 nautical mile-Exclusive Economic Zone measured from their coasts. Countries have the sole right to fish, mine, drill or use other resources within their respective zones.
What you need to know about the arbitral tribunal’s ruling