The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) 2016 ruling on the highly-contested South China Sea (SCS) “singles out no one,” President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday.
During his intervention at the 24th summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China, Duterte said the PCA ruling gives “clarity” to all nations that have claims over the South China Sea (SCS).
“The 2016 Arbitral Award is a significant contribution to the corpus of international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). It singles out no one,” Duterte said.
He said the SCS claimants would reap benefits from the ruling that favors the Philippines.
“Rather, it justly favors and benefits the community of law-abiding nations by providing clarity to all. This clarity — which is beyond compromise — is the Philippines’ humble contribution to the international legal order,” he said.
The PCA in the Hague, Netherlands on July 12, 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines’ petition against China after the arbitral tribunal invalidated Beijing’s supposedly historic rights over almost the entire SCS.
China has repeatedly ignored the SCS ruling, while the Philippines has maintained its stance to resolve the sea disputes through peaceful and diplomatic negotiations.
Duterte reiterated that the Philippines seeks peaceful settlement of disputes in the strategic waterway.
“A rules-based order is the lynchpin of regional peace and stability. The peaceful resolution of disputes is a necessary and indispensable pillar of any order anchored on the majesty of the law,” he said.
Apart from the Philippines and China, the other SCS claimants are Asean member-states Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam and non-Asean member-state Taiwan.
Duterte reminded Asean and China to uphold the “full and effective” implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea they signed on Nov. 4, 2002 to exercise self-restraint and promote non-militarization within the SCS.
Duterte told them to adhere to freedom of navigation and overflight, exercise self-restraint, and protect the marine environment as stipulated in UNCLOS.
He added that the Philippines remains committed to the conclusion of an “effective and substantive” Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, which aims to promote peace and stability in the disputed waters.
“We are proud to have contributed to the substantive progress in the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text despite difficult circumstances,” Duterte said. “Without determination and dedication, we have provisionally agreed on the Preamble of the text. Much is left to be done but be assured of the Philippines’ unwavering support to the task at hand.”