Former President Benigno Aquino, III issued a statement on July 13, 2016 on the recently concluded arbitration on the West Philippine Sea. The arbitration decided in favor of the Philippines against China’s intrusions on the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zones or EEZ.
First off, Aquino expressed how he was “quite elated particularly since all the points we had raised were affirmed” in the arbitration decision. It is no secret that the Aquino administration strongly militated for international arbitration rather than bilateral talks with China to decide the fate of the EEZs belonging to the Philippines.
Finally, after much hard efforts, Aquino and his administration saw the fruit of their labors aptly rewarded with the “fair judgment” with which the Permanent Court of Arbitration conducted the whole proceedings, Pnoy said. He also expressed his gratitude “for the clarity with which they (the members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration) presented their ruling.”
The territorial disputes and the claims of all claimant countries have always been misunderstood since Aquino could remember—to his mind, “stretching as far back as the 1970s”—primarily due to the various opinions and views about the rights and obligations of each claimant country, especially the Philippines and China in this case.
But here finally is the resolution to end all other resolutions on the matter, decided no less by a highly respected international tribunal. There’s no more need for one’s own interpretations.
Thus, Aquino urges everyone concerned, both Filipinos and other nationalities, to “read the Press Release and Summary issued by the Tribunal to gain full understanding of the issues involved.”
Since most claimant countries often invoke applicable international laws on this issue (but sometimes choose only laws that favor their side of the argument), then Aquino assured them that “Indeed, international law has been made clearer with this monumental decision,” referring to the Tribunal decision. The meaning and intents of international laws have been made more unequivocal with this ruling.
And this goes especially for the dispute between the Philippines and China on the West Philippine Sea. And not just exclusively to them, but also “as far as other coastal states are concerned, with regards to UNCLOS” (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).
Consequently, Aquino insisted that the Tribunal decision wasn’t just victory for the Philippines but “a victory for all…because the clarity rendered now establishes better conditions that enable countries to engage each other (fairly), bearing in mind their duties and rights within a context that espouses equality and amity.”
Finally, Aquino felt proven correct with his decision to go for the tribunal instead of a purely bilateral talk with China which China has always insisted on. “The decision to pursue arbitration was not an easy one to make,” he recalled. “We foresaw and experienced the pressures in taking this route; yet until the end, we stood our ground.”
After thanking cabinet and government officials who played vital roles in supporting and pushing for arbitration, Aquino warned everyone on the nature of conflicts between parties or nations: “Where there is conflict over claims and opinions, cooperation cannot exist.”
But he ended on a positive note by assuring the country that with the Tribunal ruling rendering everything clearer now, “we can all move forward as a global community. Without doubt, this long-running dispute is now closer to having a permanent solution.”