Baselines law the best way to enforce arbitral award – Jardeleza
MANILA, Philippines—Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza on Monday said “the most efficient and practical option” to enforce the award in the South China Sea Arbitration is through a new Baselines Law.
Jardeleza’s statement is contained in a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte dated June 5.
He said on July 12 will be the 5th anniversary of the South China Sea Arbitral Award won by the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China.
“Unfortunately, almost five years after the Award, our country seems still divided on how best to enforce it,” read Jardeleza’s letter. Jardeleza was the Solicitor General during the arbitral proceedings against China under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.
“We respectfully submit that the best, most efficient and practical option to enforce the Award is to… legislate a new Baselines Law, consistent with the [Arbitral] Award, “ he said in his letter.
The 2016 ruling of the Permanent Arbitration Court has rejected China’s argument that it had sovereign and historic rights over the disputed sea region located within the so-called nine-dash line.
It also upheld the Philippines’ exclusive rights over the Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc, a group of rock formations found well within the Philippines’ 330-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Beijing’s nine-dash line claims ownership to 85.7 percent of the sea region that hosts some $5 trillion in global trade passes per year.
The proposed bill will amend Republic Act 9522, the current Baselines Law, to specifically name and identify the maritime features in the West Philippine Sea claimed or occupied by the country.
The proposed law has identified over a hundred maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and of these maritime features, it mentioned the more than 30 with offshore rock or high tide feature. The proposed law reiterated the country’s continuing sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, as appropriate over these features.
It stressed the country’s rights “over the territorial sea and contiguous zone of each maritime feature identified in this Act, as may be applicable, shall be exercised in accordance with Philippine laws and international law, particularly the United Nations Charter and the UNCLOS.”
The proposed law also states that provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1596, Republic Act No. 9522 and Republic Act No. 3046, as amended by Republic Act No. 5446, and all other laws, decrees, executive orders, rules, judgments, and issuances inconsistent with this Act are hereby amended or modified accordingly.
It also states that the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) shall produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting this Act within six months of its effectivity.
Jardeleza, in his letter, urges Duterte to certify to congress the proposed legislation to amend RA 9522 and certify to Congress an appropriation to enforce the Award “by way of defending our rightful gains under the Award and international law.”
In drafting the proposed law, Jardeleza was assisted by international academics Dr. Melissa Loja and Professor Romel Regalado Bagares.
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