Remulla: Phl ‘not provoking’ China but ‘asserting our rights under UNCLOS’

China's 300-m floating  barrier on Scarborough Shoal prevents Philippine fishing boats from entering the shoal, denying them their livelihood as well as depriving the country of a valuable food source. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Coast Guard)
China's 300-m floating barrier on Scarborough Shoal prevents Philippine fishing boats from entering the shoal, denying them their livelihood as well as depriving the country of a valuable food source. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Coast Guard)

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the  Philippines is "not provoking" but "asserting our rights under the UNCLOS which is being respected by the whole world, hopefully by everybody including china in the future," in reaction to Beijing's warning on Tuesday, 26 September, that Manila should not to "stir up trouble" after the Philippine Coast Guard removed a floating barrier at Scarborough Shoal that was allegedly deployed by China to block Filipino fishermen from the area.

Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea has long been a source of tension between the countries. China seized the ring of reefs from the Philippines in 2012 and has since deployed patrol boats.

The latest spat was due to a 300-meter (328-yard) floating barrier that was found across the entrance of the shoal last week during a routine Philippine government resupply mission to fishermen plying the waters near the shoal.

Remulla said yesterday, "I think we know that we have to file a complaint. Its a matter of choosing the complaint to file and where to file the complaint, whether its the International Criminal court or the Permanent Court of Arbitration or other forum."

The DOJ chief said he is more inclined to file the case with the PCA because of its familiarity with the case.

The PCA in 12 July 2016 issued a unanimous award under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the "Convention") in the arbitration instituted by the Republic of the Philippines against the People's Republic of China.

It said: "This arbitration concerned the role of historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of certain maritime features and the maritime entitlements they are capable of generating, and the lawfulness of certain actions by China that were alleged by the Philippines to violate the Convention. In light of limitations on compulsory dispute settlement under the Convention, the Tribunal has
emphasized that it does not rule on any question of sovereignty over land territory and does not delimit any boundary between the Parties."

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