PH: We are determined to pursue case vs China

Posted at 03/30/14 1:49 PM

Philippine Marines, members of a military detachment stationed aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, gesture at a Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R), which twice tried to block a Philippine supply ship from approaching the Sierra Madre, on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. According to local media, two Chinese Coast Guard vessels on Saturday tried to block the Philippine government civilian ship from bringing troops and supplies to the military detachment. BRP Sierra Madre has been aground on the disputed shoal, which is known as the Ren'ai reef in China and the Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines, since 1999. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

MANILA -- Amid another incident in the Ayungin Shoal on Saturday, the Philippines said it will not be stopped from pursuing a case against China before an arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The country will file Sunday its “memorial” – or written arguments – justifying its indisputable sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In an interview with radio dzMM, newly installed Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said, “We are determined to continue the case” amid the incident in the Ayungin Shoal on Saturday afternoon, wherein two Chinese Coast Guard vessels again tried to block a civilian ship used by the government to transport food and supplies to Filipino soldiers stationed there.

The Marines onboard the civilian vessel defied the orders from China not to enter the shoal.

Over at radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, “We will not be unfazed in pursuing a diplomatic route to resolve [the tensions].”

In a separate statement, Vice President Jejomar Binay urged China to refrain from doing more acts that would raise tension in the disputed seas.

Binay said: “China must consider that a peaceful resolution of our conflict would be impossible without mutual respect.”

“While we value our strong ties, this is not at the expense of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. I ask China to refrain from taking action that exacerbates the conflict,” the statement added.

“The Philippines has raised the issue before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal. As a member of the community of nations, it is only expected of China to respect the proceedings and abide by its decision,” he added.

China has not submitted a counter-argument, which could mean the decision by the arbitral tribunal may be fast-tracked.

Jose said a decision will be available “hopefully next year.”