Reference: Atty. H. Harrry L. Roque 09175398096
Metro Manila, PHILIPPINES — “We are happy that the Philippines has won regarding the issue of jurisdiction,” said lawyer and KABAYAN first nominee Atty. Harry Roque, “but this is only the first step: our legal battle to win our case on the merits against China has just begun.”
This was after the Hague arbitration court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines regarding the West Philippine Sea.
China claims sovereignty over the entire West Philippine Sea under its proposed 9-dash line, basing its claim on ancient title. Legal experts around the world has disputed this, stating that said 9-dash line was initially articulated by Taiwanese academics in the 50’s and was only resurrected in 2009 as part of China’s opposition to joint application of Vietnam and Malaysia for an extended continental shelf.
Because of actions by the Chinese government, including the employment of Chinese ships to patrol the area and the building of artificial islands in low-tide elevations, the Philippines has since initiated arbitration with China in January 2013 under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), claiming that said acts are transgressions on national maritime territory.
China has boycotted the proceedings, and while having commissioned the submission of a de facto counter-memorial, insists that it will not be bound by the outcome of the arbitration.
However, China’s assertion was countered by the Hague arbitration court itself, which held that additional hearings were to be conducted to decide the merits of the Philippines’ arguments, including the issue of whether artificial islands can be the subject of title and can generate maritime zones.
“The challenge right now is on the merits of the case,” Atty. Roque said, “and we are optimistic that we can declare the nine-dash line illegal as per the UNCLOS.”
However, added Atty. Roque, the Philippines needs to be prepared for any eventuality.
“Even if we win, we still have to think of ways and means to compel China to comply, which is easier said than done,” Atty. Roque said.
Atty. Harry Roque is the former Director of the Institute of International Legal Studies at the UP Law Center, and professor of Constitutional Law at the UP College of Law. He has given up his established academic career to pursue an elected legislative position through party-list, but remains active regarding issues of national and international importance.
“We need to conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with international law,” Atty. Roque advised. “We should implore the US to cease provocation and allow arbitration to take its course.”
The main advocacies of his partylist, KABAYAN, are KAlusugan (health), PaBAhay (housing) and KabuHAYan (livelihood), as part of the legal mandate of the State. Atty. Roque aims to use his expertise in national and international law to fight for the socio-economic constitutional rights of Filipinos, as well as support the Philippines in its international claims.