Press Release
July 12, 2018

Sen. Leila De Lima's statement on the Second Anniversary of the award of the UNCLOS International Arbitral Tribunal in the case of Philippines v. China

The case of Philippines v. China brought before the International Arbitral Tribunal under the UNCLOS was a David and Goliath fight. The Philippines was awarded the victory by the Arbitral Tribunal on July 12, 2016. In its ruling, the Arbitral Tribunal declared the nine-dash line claim of the People's Republic of China over the whole South China Sea as without legal basis under the UNCLOS and international law. It upheld the Philippines rights under UNCLOS over its Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea above China's claim over international waters in the South China Sea.

This is a victory that should not be forgotten by the Filipino people. The arbitration and the awarded ruling showcase the moral courage of the Filipino people and their past government under President Benigno S. Aquino III. It was a testament to the hard work and determination of a nation to prove to the world that right always prevails over might. It became the tangible proof of the honor of Filipinos, and their commitment to wage a principled and peaceful struggle against the might and force of a super power.

Ironically, the ruling has paved the way for the enforcement of the international law of the seas in the South China Sea by countries other than the Philippines. Since the Duterte regime has chosen to forfeit the ruling that the Aquino government worked so hard for, the challenge against China's continued acts of domination and militarization in the South China Sea is left to other countries like the United States and its allies in Asia and the Pacific. The arbitral award, and in effect, the Philippines, has provided these countries the moral and legal force necessary to implement a regime of international law in the South China Sea vis-a-vis China's plans of control and military domination in the region.

Today we celebrate the International Arbitration Tribunal award not only as a victory against Chinese aggression, but as a testament to the Filipino nation's commitment to international law and the pursuit of an honorable peace among its neighbors. It will continue to be the benchmark of exemplary global statesmanship, in contrast to the shamelessness and cowardice that characterizes the policy of mendicancy and subservience of the Duterte government.

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