Philippines sends ‘big guns’ to West PHL Sea arbitration

The Philippines is sending a high level delegation to The Hague, Netherlands next week to attend the hearing of case against China’s nine-dash line claiming virtually the entire West Philippine Sea at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Hearing will be from July 7 to 13.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and former Armed Forces of the Philippine Chief-of-Staff now Office of the President Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista will be at Netherlands next week.

This high level delegation from three branches of government shows Philippine government’s support for the said case, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said today in a press briefing.

The Philippine legal team, headed by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, will represent Philippines. The legal team is composed of lawyers and professors from United Kingdom and United States.

The scheduled first round of court proceedings will tackle jurisdictional issue. The arbitration tribunal is expected to come up with a decision on jurisdictional issue from August to September. After the jurisdictional issue has been resolved another hearing will be held in November this year. Decision is expected early 2016.

However, the Chinese government is not participating in the said Arbitration. “China has made it pretty clear of not accepting nor participating in the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines,” Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said Thursday, July 2.