Philippine exec still hopes China will be more cooperative on sea row
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 19, 2014 - 1:38pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is hopeful that China will support peaceful means to resolve the West Philippine Sea dispute following Beijing’s refusal to answer the case filed by Manila against its wide-reaching territorial claims.

“We hope they (China) will be more cooperative in resolving the issue in a peaceful manner,” Defense Spokesman Peter Galvez said in a chance interview.

“If they really want us to go on with a peaceful manner in resolving this issue, then let their words (be translated to) action,” he added.

Galvez said the Philippines remains open to discussions to address the territorial row.

“We always commit ourselves to negotiations and peaceful resolution of the issue so we hope for them to do the same,” the defense official said.

Galvez declined to comment when asked whether China’s refusal to recognize the arbitration proceedings would boost the case filed by the Philippines. 

“I will have to defer you to the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” he said.

A United Nations arbitral tribunal gave China until December 15 to answer the case filed by the Philippines over its expansive territorial claims. China, however, ignored the deadline and insisted that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case.

China added that the territorial row should be resolved through negotiations “on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law.”

China’s territorial claim is based on the so-called “nine-dash line” and covers virtually the entire South China Sea while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

The Philippines has filed a case against China’s “exaggerated” territorial claims before an international arbitral tribunal and is advocating a rules-based approach in resolving the issue.

However, China, which claims “indisputable sovereignty” over the West Philippine Sea, believes the dispute should be settled through direct bilateral negotiations.

Earlier, an agency under the US State Department published a study stating that the nine-dash line is not in line with international law.

The study, conducted by the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, said China should clarify its maritime claims in a manner consistent with international law.

“China’s laws, declarations, official acts, and official statements present conflicting evidence regarding the nature and scope of China’s claims," the study read.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has welcomed the publication of the study, which backs the Philippines’ position on the dispute.

“The study’s factual account and analyses support the Philippines position on the need for peaceful clarification of maritime entitlements in the SCS (South China Sea), which the Philippines is seeking through third-party arbitration under UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” the agency said.

“Studies such as the one produced by US Department of State contribute to the substantive literature that supports the primacy and utility of the UNCLOS for the determination of maritime entitlements, and the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes,” it added.

A UNITED NATIONS BRUNEI AND TAIWAN BUREAU OF OCEANS AND INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENTIFIC AFFAIRS CHINA CLAIMS DEFENSE SPOKESMAN PETER GALVEZ DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS PHILIPPINES SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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