Hague tribunal sets hearing on PHL case vs China on Nov. 24

By Michaela del Callar

MANILA, Nov. 11 (PNA) — The Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration will hold a one-week hearing starting Nov. 24 on the Philippines’ case challenging China’s enormous claim on disputed South China Sea territories.

“Oral hearing on the merits of the Philippines-China arbitration case under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will be held from November 24 to November 30, 2015 at The Hague,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Wednesday.

The hearing is being held after the tribunal on Oct. 30 announced that it has jurisdiction over the Philippines’ complaint, debunking China’s argument that the case is beyond the scope of the court’s mandate.

In its decision, the tribunal said it has immediate jurisdiction on seven out of 15 points raised by Manila against China, called “submissions” in legal parlance, but postponed for “later consideration” its jurisdiction ruling on eight other issues raised by Manila, saying it will be decided on as it conducts a formal hearing on the merits of the case.

China says it owns about 90 percent of the South China Sea and the cluster of islands, reefs and atolls, called the Spratlys.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the waters, which is a major shipping lane and home to vast oil and mineral deposits.

All claimants have stationed military troops in their territories in the vast sea, said to be sitting atop huge oil and gas deposits, except for Brunei. (PNA)