By Recto Mercene, October 23 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. has rejected the notion of having the Philippines go back to the United Nations to relitigate the Hague arbitral award, saying those making the suggestion may be on the payroll of Chinese intelligence, “but paid peanuts.”

In a tweet on Tuesday, the outspoken DFA chief said, “The Arbitral Award is money in our pocket. I have the strongest assurance on both points from Western intelligence.”

At the same time, he denied allegations that former Supreme Court Justice Francis Jardeleza had suggested the move, as cited in some reports.

“And it is a lie that former SC Justice Francis Jardeleza, my immediate boss in ACCRALAW on San Miguel matters, suggested it,” Locsin said. The Harvard-educated lawyer had once worked for one of the country’s biggest law firms, which produced several legal eagles including lawmakers Edgardo J. Angara, Franklin M. Drilon and Richard J. Gordon.

“I consult him [Jardeleza] on South China Sea because he is the embodiment of patriotism and integrity. Period. I am sorely tempted to take out a contract on traitors,” Locsin posted in his official Twitter account.

In July 12, 2016, a Manila daily (the Philippine Daily Inquirer) reported that “Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, who led the Philippine legal team to the United Nations arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute, said the ruling favoring the Philippines ‘is final and binding’.”

He said the Arbitral Tribunal ruled in favor of almost all of the submissions of the Philippines. These include the following:

■      China’s nine-dash-line is contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and has no basis in law;

■      Scarborough shoal and five other reefs named in Manila’s submission are rocks that generate no entitlements to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf;

■      Scarborough shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities;

■      Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal and Reed Bank are submerged at high tide, form part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines, and are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China;

■      Reed Bank is an entirely submerged reef formation that cannot give rise to maritime entitlements;

■      China violated its obligations under Unclos to protect and preserve the marine environment; and,

■      China has engaged in the construction of artificial islands, installations and structures at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines.

Although PDI had quoted Jardeleza saying in 2016 that the Hague-based tribunal’s judgment is “final and binding,” Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao said recently that Jardeleza is proposing that the July 2016 ruling of the Hague arbitral panel be brought before the UN, as reported by his newspaper two days before.

“Strangely the only one to do so,” he added.

Tiglao said Jardeleza in effect echoed the insistence of former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario that the Duterte government should also do the same.