Press Release
October 31, 2015


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the Philippines must prepare for the real nitty-gritty of what is expected to be a long, exhausting arbitration process following the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that it had jurisdiction to hear claims over the West Philippine Sea.

"The decision is just the first step. We have not really won anything yet," Escudero said. "What this means simply is that the judges have decided that there will be a fight to begin with, and the next step now is for the parties to battle on the merits."

In its decision, the Tribunal ruled that both the Philippines and China are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and therefore bound by its provisions on the settlement of disputes.

"This is a victory for all Filipinos. Sa ganitong pagkakataon, pwede at dapat isantabi ang pulitika dahil tagumpay ito ng buong bayan. Walang pula, asul, dilaw, o puti," said Escudero, who is running for vice-president as an independent candidate, alongside Sen. Grace Poe, who is running independently for president.

The senator said the Philippines' legal team will need all the help it can get from all sides of the government to defend the Philippines' claim over the West Philippine Sea, which China calls South China Sea.

He expressed hope that the international court would ultimately rule in the Philippines' favor but he also warned that the international proceedings would take a lot of time and resources on the part of the Philippines.

"We have to be prepared for this. There is hard work to be done; we must be aware that we may face hurdles along the way. Let's continue to pray for the country's legal team," Escudero said.

In a press statement, the Permanent Court of Arbitration said the decision was "unanimous and concerns only whether the Tribunal has jurisdiction to consider the Philippines' claims and whether such claims are admissible."

"Whether the Tribunal would have jurisdiction to address Chinese activities in the South China Sea may depend upon the Tribunal's decision on whether any of the maritime features claimed by China are islands capable of generating maritime zones overlapping those of the Philippines. The Tribunal also noted that the location of certain activities and the Convention's exception for military activities may affect its jurisdiction over certain of the Philippines' claims," the Court said.

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