Belmonte takes chairmanship of West Philippine Sea panel


MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday accepted the offer to chair the newly formed West Philippine Sea committee at the House of Representatives.

Belmonte, a former House speaker, will lead the special committee formed two months after the arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea issued a ruling favorable to the Philippines.

The decision criticized China's actions as against international law and invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the strategic waterway.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas previously told reporters that the panel on the South China Sea could help former President Fidel V. Ramos in his efforts to start informal negotiations with China over the longstanding maritime dispute.

As House speaker under the Aquino administration, Belmonte was a member of the Philippine delegation to the Hague in the Netherlands during the proceedings of the Philippines' case against its Asian neighbor.

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