Arbitral Tribunal ends hearing on jurisdiction, admissibility: Decision expected in 90 days

The Artbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands has ended the hearing on issues of jurisdiction and admissibility of Philippines’ case against China’s ambitious claim insisting sovereignty over virtually the entire West Philippine Sea. “Today (July 13), the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands concluded the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility of the Philippines’ claims against China,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

The said hearing was divided into two rounds. During the two-day first round (July 8 and 9), Philippines presented its arguments to prove that the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration has jurisdiction over the case filed against China’s ambitious West Philippine Sea claim and that there is no bar to the exercise of its jurisdiction.

“The hearing concluded with the second round of arguments conducted today (July 13) for the Philippines to address additional and clarificatory questions from the Tribunal,” Valte said. Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who opened Philippines’ presentation last week, delivered the closing statement.

Valte added that Philippines has until July 23, 2015, to give its written submission to the Tribunal to amplify its answers to questions posed by individual members of the tribunal.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said according to Philippines’ Chief Counsel Paul S. Reichler, based on past cases handled by a five-man tribunal, the decision on issues of jurisdiction and admissibility may be made within 90 days.

If the five-man Arbitral Tribunal assumes jurisdiction over the case another set of oral arguments will be scheduled. The Philippine legal team will then proceed to present the merits of the case against China. Final ruling on the case is expected within the first quarter of 2016.