MANILA — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday extended gratitude to the United Kingdom, France, and Germany for supporting Manila’s win in the South China Sea by citing the 2016 Arbitral Award that invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims in the region.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa mga bansang ito dahil hindi naman po mabubura iyong panalo natin sa arbitral tribunal na iyan na nagsasabi na wala pong legal na basehan iyong kini-claim ng China (We thank these countries because there’s no erasing to what we won at the arbitral tribunal that there is no legal basis to China’s historical claims to maritime territories),” he said in a briefing.

The three European states in a note verbale on Thursday challenged China’s illegal claims in the strategic waters as they affirmed the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom also underscored that land building activities or other forms of artificial transformation cannot change the classification of a feature under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Tribunal, basing its decision under UNCLOS, ruled that “none of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands, in their natural condition, are capable of sustaining human habitation or economic life of their own.”

It said none of the high tide features in the Spratly Islands generate entitlements to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

Roque said while China continues to reject the arbitral award, it remains binding on the signatories of UNCLOS, to which Beijing is part of.

“Hindi kinikilala iyan ng Tsina pero dahil siya po ay partido sa UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, binigay po niya ang kaniyang consent na i-settle ang lahat ng dispute sa pamamagitan ng dispute settlement procedure na nakasaad po sa UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (The ruling was not recognized by China but since they are party to the UNCLOS, they gave their consent to settle all maritime dispute through a dispute settlement procedure prescribed in the UNCLOS),” he said.

The three European nations’ diplomatic notes, dated September 16, came following the numerous communications issued by China in response to Malaysia’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf last year. (PNA)

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