Filipinos are rejoicing over The Hague ruling that was released yesterday, July 12, in favor of the Philippines over China. It was a unanimous ruling upholding Manila’s claim that China’s 9-dash line encroached on the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). But it seems like some of those who were overjoyed by the international tribunal’s decision credited the significant achievement to the wrong administration.
Both posts attributed the Philippines’ win over China regarding the West Philippine Sea to President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“Ipagdiwang natin ang panalong ito. Wala pang isang buwan si Tatay Digong naipanalo na ang West Philippine Sea,” the Imprinta PH page said.
Duterte took his oath of office as the new president of the country last June 30 and The Hague verdict came out 12 days into his administration.
However, the credit for this favorable verdict should go to the administration that filed the case against China – former President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.
Even a Duterte supporter who commented on Imprinta PH’s post said that the credit should go to the right administration.
Most of the comments called out the admin of the page for twisting the facts just so they could support Duterte, who one commenter pointed out as showing willingness to compromise with China. He could be referring to news about Foreign Affairs Secretary Yasay saying that the Philippines is willing to share South China Sea resources with China days before The Hague ruling came out.
And these commenters are not the only ones who are fighting for the credits to be given to Aquino’s administration.
Jozy Acosta-Nisperos, founder of the Facebook page supporting the Mar Roxas-Leni Robredo campaign during the last elections, is also urging everybody to spread the truth to counter the lies. In her Facebook post on the page, she thanked a certain Roger Chua, who took the time to respond to Duterte’s supporters praising the new president for winning the arbitration case against China and corrected them in their false beliefs.
To set things straight about why the Aquino administration and everyone who worked for three years to get to this ruling over the West Philippine Sea deserve the credit, let’s take note of the things the Philippines did based on the timeline of the maritime dispute between PH and China:
- Filed a case against China on January 22, 2013 at the United Nation’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).
- Submitted a 4,000-page pleading or memorial to the PCA on March 30, 2015.
- Submitted a 3,000-page supplemental memorial on March 17, 2015.
- Appeared before the PCA at The Hague to argue that the international tribunal has the right to hear the Philippines’ case against China from July 7-13, 2015.
- Returned to The Hague for the tribunal hearing on the merits of the case of the Philippines.
All these things were done under Aquino’s administration. This move was prompted by several incidents that started in 2011, when a Chinese frigate fired three shots at Philippine fishing boats in the Quirino or Jackson Atoll after asking them to leave but one boat had a problem with its anchor. This was also why the Department of Foreign Affairs started referring to the disputed body of water as the “West Philippine Sea.” Several incidents happened after that, which led to the Philippines taking China to court, despite the latter being a rising superpower.
So there should be no argument as to where the credit is due – to Aquino, the delegation composed of lawyers, ambassadors, expert witnesses, advocates, and support staff who represented the Philippines in The Hague for the oral arguments, and the legal team led by Paul Reichler, and to everyone else who rallied against China in this maritime dispute. It’s just that the decision came out during Duterte’s administration, which is expected to plan the country’s next move while putting national interest as its priority.
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