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Philippines has 'good case' vs China on Scarborough row

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Friday told government agencies and maritime law experts to prepare a paper to bolster the country's claim over the Scarborough Shoal.

During the hearing of the Senate's foreign relations committee, chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda, Enrile said the Philippines should be in unanimity when it argues its case before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

"I suggest for the entire concerned agencies of government to prepare a paper to be submitted without the disclosure to the public to the Senate of this Committee and the Senate itself how the case of the Philippines on Scarborough Shoal because there are many bigger issues involve," Enrile said.

He added that the government should gather relevant princinple of customary international law "so that we will have guide in dealing with this problem."

He also suggested that agencies like the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice should consult with lawyer Estelito Mendoza in preparing the paper to be presented before the international tribunal.

"I think we better understand this things before we start talking... I suggest for you to talk to Estelito Mendoza, the only living person who attended the discussion regarding the UN law of the sea," he said.

Mendoza, according to Enrile, was consulted by the previous administration to write the baseline law.

Enrile said the Philippines has a " good case" in claiming its right over Scarborough Shoal legally.

"We have a good case over Scarborough Shoal against China as well as the Reed Bank. I cannot believe that a nation almost one thousand nautical miles away could overwhelm the right of the sovereign state of the republic of the Philippines," he said.

Those who attended Friday's committee hearing included officials of the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine Navy and experts on maritime laws.

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Dennis Carcamo | The Philippine Star | April 27, 2012 | Article Link

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