By Genevieve Candace Poquiz


“The Award is final.”

These are the words of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, six years after an international tribunal ruled over the claims of China on the disputed West Philippine Sea despite Beijing's repeated rejections to comply with the decision.

The DFA secretary reiterated the points that were raised in the arbitration, including the ruling on China's supposed nine-dash line, the Philippines’ jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone, and the illegal activities of Chinese officials and vessels.

"These findings are no longer within the reach of denial and rebuttal, and are conclusive as they are indisputable,” Manalo said. “We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history and our collective memories."

Granted on July 12, 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued the award which currently serves as the anchor of the country’s operations within the West Philippine Sea, alongside the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

According to the secretary, the Philippines does not consider the award as benefiting any sole country, but rather all nations that are under similar circumstances — those facing challenges over territorial rights.

“We recall 12 July 2016 as the day that affirmed to the community of nations that the rule of law prevails, and that stability, peace and progress can only be attained when founded on a rules-based legal order on the oceans, as it should be everywhere else,” Manalo stated.

Throughout his speech, DFA chief Manalo hinted at peaceful resolutions and resolving disputes “through reason and right.”

"And so we say once again: the present that we need and the future that we want is a peaceful South China Sea. The Philippines is committed to this for as long as it exists,” Manalo ended.

Edited by: Khezyll Galvan