By Franz Lewin Embudo/Manila Times
Retired Supreme Court Justice Francis Jardeleza has backed the idea of raising a dispute on an arbitral ruling on the South China (West Philippine) Sea before the United Nations (UN) rather than the country talking with China about the maritime row.
“Bring it to the UN rather than talk with China,” Jardeleza said during the ‘In Focus’ news conference at Anabel’s Restaurant in Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City.
Jardeleza noted that the government was already talking with China bilaterally to ask the latter to proceed and agree on a so-called code of conduct.
“I believe it was a correct decision. What we have now is the government doing a bilateral approach,” he said.
The former Supreme Court justice explained that even if China says it does not recognise the UN arbitral ruling, “deep down, they know that there’s that decision.”
“So, without necessarily flaunting it, we engage them because we are neighbours. Negotiate so that they will over time respect our fishing rights and hopefully give us concessions,” he added.
“How do you convince China to reply? The choices are bilateral approach, multilateral or a combination (of both). This is again a policy choice,” Jardeleza said.
He commended the act of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd in bringing China to court over the dispute in the South China Sea, saying “it was still the correct decision of the (then) president to file a case.”
Under the Aquino administration, the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China over a dispute involving conflicting claims to territories in the South China Sea on Jan 22, 2013. The Philippines won the case in July 2016 after the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines, nullifying China’s sweeping “nine-dash” claim to the entire South China Sea.
“The decision clarified a lot about what a country can do about its maritime entitlement,” Jardeleza said.
The justice retired last September 26 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. Jardeleza said he was planning to go back to the University of the Philippines College of Law to teach.
He was appointed to the high court by Aquino on Aug 19, 2014. Jardeleza served as solicitor general since Feb 20, 2012 and as deputy ombudsman for Luzon.
As the solicitor general, he led the Philippine legal team that won the arbitral ruling against China.
The retired justice wanted to be remembered in the history of the Philippine Supreme Court as a judge who decided his cases “based purely on the facts and the law.”
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