MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The arbitral tribunal handling the Philippines' case against China at The Hague, Netherlands, said Manila needs to prepare for a second round of oral arguments on Monday, July 13.
"The Philippine side has undertaken sufficient preparation to ensure that the best answers will be provided to the questions expected to be propounded by the tribunal during the second round," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a bulletin Friday evening.
The second round is set from 10 am to 1 pm on Monday, another member of the Philippine delegation said.
The source also said the second round of oral arguments "is routine," and that "one cannot infer anything, other than that the judges want clarifications."
In a bulletin earlier on Friday, July 10, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippines was bracing for the tribunal's possible additional questions.
Like the Philippine delegation at The Hague, the tribunal is also a powerhouse team.
The tribunal is led by Judge Thomas Mensah of Ghana – no less than the first president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
Founded in 1996, ITLOS settles disputes related to the so-called Constitution for the Oceans, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The following members also compose the tribunal:
China's strongest argument
The tribunal has been hearing the Philippines' arguments since Tuesday, July 7.
The Philippines wants to prove that the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration has the right to hear the historic case. (READ: PH vs China at The Hague: '80% of fish' at stake)
China asserts that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the arbitral proceedings. This is China's strongest argument.
At the same time, Manila's team has given an overview of its 5 arguments against Beijing. (READ: EXPLAINER: Philippines' 5 arguments vs China)
One of these arguments involves China's island-building in the West Philippine Sea.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday said China "has irreversibly damaged the regional marine environment, in breach of UNCLOS, by its destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea."
If the tribunal decides it has the right to hear the arbitral proceedings, the Philippines can present its arguments on the merits of the case at a later date. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.