South China Sea deal stuck on mere outline
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The historic arbitral ruling issued one year ago on 12 July 2016 was overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines and against China. The ruling was jubilantly received in Hanoi, which benefits immensely as it invalidates China’s nine-dashed lines. But in Manila, the stunning victory became strangely orphaned. The Duterte Administration refused to celebrate even though the ruling legally secured for the Philippines a maritime zone larger than its land area. Six months later President Duterte announced he was “setting aside” the ruling in favor of better economic relations with China. I was aghast at the President’s use of the phrase “setting aside.” In law to “set aside” a ruling means to nullify, void or abandon it. I sounded the alarm for the Dept. of Foreign Affairs to immediately clarify the President’s statement. If accepted by China, his statement would legally bind the Philippines under the doctrine in international law on unilateral declarations by heads of state. The DFA promptly clarified that there was no abandonment of the ruling. The clarification was issued just a few hours before China warmly accepted the President’s statement. This prevented it from becoming legally binding on the Philippines. We escaped a self-inflicted national disaster by the skin of our teeth.
South China Sea deal stuck on mere outline. (2017, July 31). The Philippine Star, p. 17.
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- The Philippine Star