Philippine team presenting strong case before five-member Arbitral Tribunal

The Philippine government is optimistic in getting a favorable decision on the issue of Arbitral Tribunal’s jurisdiction over Philippines’ West Philippine Sea case against China. “We’re hoping because our team essentially prepared a strong case,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview with dzRB Radyo ng Bayan Saturday, July 4.

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana. Members are Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Professor Alfred Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany.

“We believe that we stand on firm legal grounds and we hope that the tribunal will look at our position with favor because, while some people say that it’s merely a jurisdictional issue, if the tribunal sees that it has no jurisdiction, then we cannot proceed,” Valte added.

Philippines is being represented by Solicitor General Florin T. Hilbay as Agent. Counsels are Paul S. Reichler and Lawrence H. Martin from law firm Foley Hoag LLP in Washington DC; Professor Bernard H. Oxman from University of Miami School of Law; Professor Philippe Sands QC from Matrix Chambers in London; and Professor Alan Boyle Essex Court Chambers in London.

The Deputy Presidential Spokesperson said the Philippine delegation will try to share information on the proceedings, taking place July 7 to 13 at The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, as much as they can. “I’m told that the photo taking is limited, but we will be sending daily bulletins upon clearance of the Executive Secretary [Paquito Ochoa, Jr.] at the end of the hearing.”

Philippine delegation will be observing the proceedings. The delegation is composed of leaders from the three branches of government, the executive branch, legislature and judiciary.