The truth about the arbitral tribunal decision

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD…” (Psalm 119:1, the Holy Bible).


THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ARBITRAL TRIBUNAL DECISION: If you read and studied the 500 or so pages of the “award” which the Permanent Court of Arbitration rendered in the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines, I am sure you will also find out that it was not really an award or something.

I am sure you will also learn that despite its many findings that China violated various rights of the Philippines over the islands found in that part of the ocean, the Court actually refused to issue any order, as requested by Filipino officials, to order China to stop the violations, or to give out any relief to our country.

In short, now I know why President Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. were looking forlorn and gravely sad when the “award” came out on July 12, 2016. It is because the Philippines did not really win anything from the Court, even if it is being bruited about that it spent a whooping US$1.2 billion to file and prosecute the arbitration case against China.


THE ONLY OPTION FOR RP: NEGOTIATE WITH CHINA: With an “award” like that, and with a declaration by the Court that it not making any other statement after describing the violations committed by China against the Philippines, the only possibility left for Filipinos is, truly, to agree to what China had been saying all alone: discuss and resolve their differences over the South China Sea at the negotiating table.

Indeed, negotiations and further dialogues are the only options available to the Philippines, especially because China is adamant in its stand not to abide by the Court’s “award”. Otherwise, we will be compelled to go to war against the Chinese, if we insist on asserting our supposed rights over the South China Sea.

But war is—and should never be— an option here. The Philippines is puny and small, compared to the might and power of China, militarily, economically, and demographically. So, we must agreed to negotiate. We must heed China’s call for us to discuss the matter all over again, and attempt to find solutions diplomatically.


WHY DID AQUINO INSIST ON ARBITRATION? The question, of course, is: if negotiations are the only thing we can really do here, did not the Aquino government—whose officials filed the arbitration case against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas with the Permanent Court of Arbitration—realize this before that case was ever filed?

Did not the Aquino government try to consider the stand of China, known to all the world all along, that it would never agree to any compulsory arbitration and that the only approach it would ever recognize towards solving the South China Sea problem is dialogue and negotiation since, as what it had been saying, it is dialogue which the two countries earlier on agreed upon as the remedy to solve their dispute?

Why did Aquino seek arbitration when China had been saying it will not honor any award from any arbitrator? And what really happened behind the trip of an Aquino ally, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, to China, considering that, after that trip, the Chinese became thoroughly emboldened in seizing the South China Sea?


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