The five-member United Nations Arbitral Tribunal will deliberate Friday whether or not they will proceed to the second round of oral arguments on the Philippines' petition against China over a rankling maritime row in the South China Sea.
In a dispatch from The Hague, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the Arbitral Tribunal would be "convening today to deliberate on the presentations made by the Philippines in its claims against China." "In the past two days, the Philippines presented its arguments to prove that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the matter and that there is no bar to the exercise of its jurisdiction," Valte said.
Valte said should the tribunal decide to ask the Philippine legal team more questions, the second round of arguments would be held on July 13. The Philippines told the arbitral tribunal in the first round of arguments that China has flouted international maritime laws, using so-called "historic rights" to claim nearly 90 per cent of the resource-rich South China Sea.
The UN court will first have to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the complaint filed by the Philippines against China, before it proceeds to hear the merits of the case.
Should the arbitral tribunal decide that it has no jurisdiction over the complaint, the Philippines would have to rethink its strategy on how to protect its sovereignty in the South China Sea.
China has already built artificial islands, apparently military garrisons, on seven of the reefs and shoals it claims in the South China Sea, raising concerns among its regional neighbours and Washington over an increasingly changing security environment.