SC justice asks fishermen to be prudent despite ruling on South China Sea

Sunday, July 17th, 2016. Filed under: Philippine News
Residents join advocates for Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea in offering thanksgiving prayer and sampaguita flowers to celebrate the historic and favorable ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at the seawall of the Manila Bay on Tuesday (July 12, 2016). (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)lam/acd

Residents join advocates for Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea in offering thanksgiving prayer and sampaguita flowers to celebrate the historic and favorable ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at the seawall of the Manila Bay on Tuesday (July 12, 2016). (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)lam/acd

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza on Wednesday called on Filipino fishermen to observe prudence in the disputed areas of the South China Sea even after the Permanent Court of Arbitration favored the Philippines in its 15-point case against China’s excessive claims in the area.

In a media conference in Manila, Jardeleza said both the Philippine and Chinese governments should first be given time to digest the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 501-page award to the Philippines, before further steps are taken.

Jardeleza was the country’s solicitor general when the Philippines filed its unpredcedented maritime complaint against China in 2013.

“Nagbabasa ang magkabilang panig. Sana walang insidente na mangyari…. Ang gabay ay manggagaling sa local government. Mag-hunusdili. Huwag magpadalus-dalos,” said Jardeleza.

“Mas mahalaga sa lokal na pamahalaan na sila ay nakikipag-ugnayan sa mga mangingisda hangga’t mayroon nang malinaw na alituntunin. Sa pagkaintindi namin, iyan ay pinag-uusapan kung ano safeguards para hindi mapasama ang ating mangingisda,” he added.

The Hague-based court invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash line, its basis to claim rights to the disputed areas.

Saying the award was null and void without any binding force, China vowed to take all necessary measures to protect its “sovereignty” in the South China Sea.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who was also a member of the Philippine delegation to The Hague, stressed that China was a party to the UNCLOS, and was legally bound to comply with the ruling.

Hilbay, in the same conference attended by Jardeleza, clarified that the PCA’s award does not claim sovereignty over territory, and purely covers the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China.

“This will not determine ownership on the territory. And so this is not meant to determine the territory, this is meant to determine sovereign rights,” he said.

Hilbay said he was hoping that Philippine diplomats would have the power to enforce the PCA decision, even as he acknowledged the possibility that the Duterte administration would engage bilateral talks with China.

“I really do not want to speculate on what is going to happen. I will assume that our diplomats understand the consequences and the possible problems of enforcing the decision,” said Hilbay.

“What they will advise the LGUs and the fisherfolk in the area will depend on what they believe will be the appropriate and effective strategy to ensure the proper implementation of the decision,” he added.

Jardeleza’s fellow SC magistrate, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier in the day said the Philippine government should talk to the Chinese government to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in disputed waters.

Filipino fishermen have repeatedly complained in the past about being harassed by Chinese authorities while fishing off both Philippine territories and disputed seas. (MNS)

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