West Philippine Sea disputed territory

MANILA, Philippines-The Philippines has taken the territorial claim against China to the United Nations Tribunal, Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said on Tuesday.

“The Philippines is requesting the United Nations Tribunal to issue an award…that China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea based on its so-called nine-dash line are contrary to United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and invalid,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario added the country has “exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a negotiated settlement.”

“We strongly believe that this action is the appropriate response to put our diplomatic relations in its proper context.”

Maritime disputes at the UN Tribunal usually take 3 to 4 years, Del Rosario informed.

Territorial row between Philippines and China started when the latter “claimed nearly the entire 3.5 million sq. km South China Sea.”

China’s move has also caused dispute among other countries in South East Asia like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Oil and gas exploration from both countries has heightened the tension in the area.

It has also caused months-long of standoff between China and Philippine military ships at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited group of Islands claimed by both countries.

Former senator now Muntinlupa congressman Rodolfo Biazon earlier reminded the government not to bend on China’s might.

Rep. Biazon added it is only the United Nations (UN) that has the final say on resolving the issue on the disputed West Philippine Sea in reference to its Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“This will not be taken by force. This can only be solved by UN resolution…We should refer this to the UN, and not China will try to impose its will by the use of force,” he said over a television interview.

Drafted and ratified between 1973 through 1982, UNCLOS defines the “rights and responsibilities” of countries in their use of the world’s seas and oceans to include guidelines on managing its environment, commerce and resources.

Rep. Biazon maintained that the country has its sole rights of the islands’ territory in reference to the Baseline Law which he also authored in compliance to the provisions of the UN’s Law of the Sea contrary to the claims of other countries like China.

“What we should do is continue our protest . In every single incident…,because if we will not continue our protest , it might slow down our claim in the UN.”

China has yet to give its official response on the issue.