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Day 2 at The Hague: Philippines presents environmental, fishing claims vs China

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Vic Ledda converse during the second day of the oral arguments at The Hague. Twitter/Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte

MANILA, Philippines - The first round of the oral arguments on the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China continued on Wednesday at The Hague, Netherlands.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during the second day of the hearings, the Philippines asserted the environmental and fishing concerns in the disputed South China Sea.

"For the afternoon hearing, Professor Alan Boyle presented to the tribunal arguments regarding the strength of the Philippines' environmental and fishing claims against China," Valte said.

The Philippines also continued arguing that the Arbitral Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration has jurisdiction over the case against China's excessive maritime claims.

"The Philippines' lawyers further explained to the Arbitral Tribunal how the case does not constitute specific exemptions under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which would preclude the tribunal from exercising jurisdiction over the case," Valte said in a statement.

During the morning hearing, Valte said Professor Philippe Sands, one of the foreign counsels hired by the Philippines, briefly addressed questions propounded by a member of the arbitral tribunal from Tuesday's hearing.

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Counsels Lawrence Martin, Professor Bernard Oxman and Paul Reichler took turns presenting arguments involving various points on why the Philippines' claims fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

Sands closed the first round of arguments by summarizing the submissions of the Philippines presented in the course of the hearings.

The Philippines is seeking to clarify its maritime entitlements in the South China Sea and to declare China's claims to virtually all the contested waters invalid.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario told the tribunal on Tuesday that China is not entitled to exercise what it refers to as "historic rights" over the waters and that its so-called nine dash line has no basis under international law.

In his "impassioned" plea before the tribunal, Del Rosario said China in 2012 forcibly expelled Philippine fishermen from the maritime areas around Scarborough Shoal where Filipinos have been fishing for generations without protest from the Chinese.

Del Rosario also said China's ongoing massive land reclamation activities are in "blatant disregard" of the Philippines' rights in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

He added that China's island-building activities are at "tremendous cost" to the marine environment in violation of UNCLOS.

"China has irreversibly damaged the regional marine environment, in breach of UNCLOS, by its destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippines’ EEZ, by its destructive and hazardous fishing practices, and by its harvesting of endangered species," Del Rosario said.

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