News / Asia

Philippines Files Pleadings in Case Against China

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario delivers a statement during a news conference in Manila, March 30, 2014.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario delivers a statement during a news conference in Manila, March 30, 2014.
Simone Orendain
On Sunday, The Philippines submitted supporting documents to an international tribunal in The Hague in its case against China over competing South China Sea claims. 

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the country’s legal team put together 10 volumes that amounted to nearly 4,000 pages of material to support the merits of its case.  He said the submission, called a “memorial,” is in the Philippines’ national interest and is about “defending what is legitimately” theirs.

“It is about securing our children’s future.  It is about guaranteeing freedom of navigation for all nations.  It is about helping to preserve regional peace, security and stability.  And finally, it is about seeking not just any kind of resolution but a just and durable solution grounded [in] international law,” he said.

In January last year, the Philippines took its grievances to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea over what it calls China’s “excessive claims” in the South China Sea.  The Philippines questions whether there is any legal basis for China’s claim of ownership over more than 70 percent of the sea.  It is also seeking reassurance that features it says are part of its continental shelf and well within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone, as defined by international law, cannot be claimed by anyone else.

These shoals, reefs and atolls in the heavily travelled sea sit atop abundant fishing grounds and potentially vast hydrocarbon resources.

China does not recognize international arbitration and has not responded to the case.  It bases its claim on ancient maps and says it has “indisputable sovereignty over South China Sea Islands and their adjacent waters.”  Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have partial or entire claims in the sea.

Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi heads the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research in Manila.  He said the case could open the floodgates. “Many, many claimants are considering the possibility of arbitration, but they are not ready yet.  They are watching [where] the developments of Philippine arbitration would lead,” he stated.

Banlaoi said there is also the possibility that if the tribunal finds in favor of the Philippines, China would simply opt out of being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  And he said even with the case filed, China will continue increased policing of the waters to assert its claims.

In 1995, China put up structures on Mischief Reef, which is about 200 kilometers west of Palawan Province and claimed by the Philippines.  For nearly two years, Chinese surveillance ships have kept local fishermen out of Scarborough Shoal, 225 kilometers west of Zambales province, which was the site of tense standoff between ships from the two countries in 2012.  

Earlier this month, Chinese surveillance ships blocked a Philippine vessel trying to send provisions to an installation at Second Thomas Shoal.  The facility is a grounded Philippine ship where some military personnel are stationed.  Then just Saturday, two Chinese civilian ships tried again to stop a provision ship carrying some journalists from entering the same shoal, also west of Palawan.

The arbitration tribunal will next have to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the case.  Philippine officials say their submission demonstrates that it does.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More