China's rejection of PH's Arbitral Award 'not surprising' — Roque

Published July 14, 2021, 1:57 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang was not surprised after China rejected anew the historic July 12, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, saying the ruling was already part of international law.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque and Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian (Malacañang and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs photos)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian referred to the ruling that rejected its excessive nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea as a “piece of waste paper.”

“The award of the arbitration is illegal, null, and void. It is nothing more than a piece of waste paper,” he told reporters in Beijing on Monday.

In response, Roque said the reaction of China to the historic Arbitral Award was not surprising. He, however, echoed President Duterte’s sentiment that the ruling was already part of international law.

“Hindi na tayo nagulat noong sinabi ng Chinese Foreign Ministry na ang July 2016 Arbitral Award ay (We were not surprised when the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the July 2016 Arbitral Award was) ‘a piece of waste paper,'” he said.

“Bilang sagot sa sinabi ng (to respond to the) spokesperson [of the] Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ang tingin po natin ang award ay kabahagi na ng international law (we think the award is part of international law),” he added.

“‘Yan po ay sang-ayon sa (That is according to) Article 38 ng ICJ (International Court of Justice) Statute, subsidiary means of finding out the applicable norm of customary international law. At ‘yan po ay (It is also) under Article 38 of the ICJ Statute, writings of the most qualified publicists on the UN (United Nations) Law of the Sea,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Roque said he had no idea how brave should the Philippines be regarding the issue after Vice President Leni Robredo expressed dismay over how the government had been handling the situation following Zhao’s remark.

“Hindi ko po alam kung anong tapang ang gusto niyang ipakita pero nagsalita na po ang Presidente malinaw, matapang sa (I don’t know what kind of bravery she wants the government to exhibit but the President has spoken clearly and bravely at the) UN General Assembly,” he said.

“‘The Arbitral Ruling is already part of international law.’ Kung hindi po ‘yan matapang, hindi ko po alam kung ano ang matapang (If that’s not brave, I don’t know what is),” he added.

In September 2020, President Duterte spoke at the virtual 75th United Nations General Assembly where he said the country will not allow any country to undermine the landmark ruling.

“The Award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish, or abandon. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” the President said.