The Philippines will send its top government officials, composed of “high-level” delegation to the Netherlands for the start of the oral arguments on July 7 and 13 for the country’s arbitration case against China.

Permanent Court Arbitration at The Hague
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Usec. Abigail Valte

At a press briefing on Friday, deputy presidential spokesperson Usec. Abigail Valte confirmed that those joining the delegation to the oral arguments include Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Senior Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Solicitor General and now Supreme Court Justice Francis Jardeleza, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Undersecretary Manny Bautista who serves as executive director of the government security cluster.

“It clearly shows the support of government for the case across the board. It’s not only the executive, it’s the legislative. It’s also the judiciary. It’s a country effort,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Friday.

“A lot of the members of the delegation have something to contribute to the discussions. These people have been part of the discussions on the dispute involving the West Philippine Sea, and they would also like to see the progress of our complaint, of our memorial before the tribunal. Really, to us, if China has chosen not to attend then that is their decision but for the government, we will fully support and see through these proceedings.” she said.

“It’s really a country effort… Hindi ito (na-file) lang para masabing may ginawa tayo tapos hinayaan na lang,” she told reporters.

Malacañang maintained it would continue to pursue a rules-based approach even as China labeled the Philippine move as a “political provocation.”

“It is expected that the other party will issue a statement like that because it supports their position not to appear. But at least for the Philippines, we believe that the filing of the case before the arbitral tribunal is within, is in line with our commitment to resolve the dispute peacefully and to use a rules-based approach for the filing and the resolution of the dispute,” Valte added.

By: Carl E.

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