By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Department of Foreign Affairs (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday rebuked China for what it called “continued misrepresentation” of law and facts on the South China Sea, days after a Chinese diplomat labeled the 2016 arbitral ruling as “illegal” while on a trip to Iloilo City for the Chinese New Year.

China’s Consul General in Cebu Zhang Zhen said the tribunal’s award is null and void and that China’s claims over the sea lanes are “deeply grounded” on facts and international law.

Local newspaper Panay News said Zhen also provided the press with a 41-page briefer on China’s historic claims in the area to “set the record straight.”

“We take serious exception to China’s continued misrepresentation of the law and the facts. The Philippines and China are both parties to UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea),” DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said in a statement.

“We have and will consistently call on China to act responsibly and abide by its obligations under UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea,” she added.

The Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the UNCLOS issued a landmark ruling in 2016 that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line.

These claims, the tribunal said, exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements provided for by the UNCLOS.

The invisible demarcation outlines China’s extensive claims over the South China Sea, which also covers large parts of the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. (PNA)