08 July 2015 -A high-level Philippine team for the UNCLOS arbitration case being heard by an arbitral tribunal in The Hague has begun presenting the arguments for the Philippine position, with emphasis on the tribunal's jurisdiction to hear and decide the case.

On the first day of the oral arguments on 7 July 2015, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario explained the reasons for the Philippines' decision to seek arbitration in its maritime dispute with China.

"China has pursued its activities in these disputed maritime areas with overwhelming force. The Philippines can only counter by invoking international law. That is why it is of fundamental importance to the Philippines, and we would submit, for the rule of law in general, for the Tribunal to decide where and to what limit China has maritime entitlements in the South China Sea; where and to what limit the Philippines has maritime entitlements; where and to what extent the Parties' respective entitlements overlap and where they do not. None of this requires or even invites the Tribunal to make any determinations on questions of land sovereignty, or delimitation of maritime boundaries," Secretary del Rosario stated. He made an impassioned plea for the tribunal to recognize its jurisdiction over a case laden with ramifications for the application of the rule of law in maritime disputes not only in the South China Sea but elsewhere in the world.

The full text of Secretary del Rosario's speech is attached.

On the second day of the oral arguments, the Philippines' lawyers will further explain how the Philippine case did not fall under the specific UNCLOS exemptions that preclude the tribunal from hearing the case. They also will present arguments manifesting the strength of the Philippines' environmental and fishing claims against China.

The Philippine legal team is expected to summarize the Philippines' case and reply to questions to be raised by the tribunal before the oral arguments conclude on July 13. END