By: Elena Grace Flores
The Philippines carefulness in framing its complaint by former foreign affairs secretary, Albert del Rosario under the Aquino administration that pushed sovereignty issues aside over the disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea and argued on logical reasons has left China with no option but to discredit the law making body instead. For instance, the complaint detailed explanation that nine specific reefs and rocks, including China’s reclaimed islands, are too small for assertion of economic rights to the waters around them, regardless of who has sovereignty over them.
The Convention on the Law of the Sea allows a nation to exercise sovereignty over waters up to 12 nautical miles from its coast, and it grants economic rights over waters on a nation’s continental shelf and to 200 nautical miles from its coast. But the treaty says reefs that are entirely submerged at high tide and artificial islands cannot be used to justify any maritime rights.
Philippine specifically asked the tribunal to rule that China has violated the treaty by building islands in the Philippines’ economic waters, interfering with its fishermen, endangering its ships and damaging the marine environment. It also asked the tribunal to reject China’s claim to sovereignty over waters within a “nine-dash line” that almost cover all the South China Sea borders. China threatens to leave the treaty as a result and put themselves under grave pressure with America’s world martial role.