The Philippines has issued a statement on Tuesday that will bring the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal dispute with China to the international court.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario invited Chinese officials to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), to peacefully settle the Scarborough Shoal issue.
ITLOS is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention
Del Rosario said the country has sovereign rights over the waters surrounding Scarborough Shoal "where Chinese ships are currently engaging in illegal activities within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)."
"The whole world knows that China has myriad more ships and aircraft than the Philippines. At day's end, however, we hope to demonstrate that international law would be the great equalizer," he said.
China's People's Liberation Army had more than 386 ships in service as of 2009, including three ballistic missile submarines, 59 attack submarines, 26 destroyers and 48 frigates, according to US Congressional Research Service data, dated March 23, 2012. The country is persistent to the ownership of the shoal, saying it was first discovered in the 13th century during the Yuan Dynasty. They call it Huangyan Island.
Malacañang meanwhile has backed up DFA's decision to bring the issue to the international court, saying "it is in the best interest of all concerned to settle the issue through diplomatic means."
The Panatag Shoal is a triangle of small islands in the West Philippine Sea circling a lagoon of 150 square kilometers. It is part of the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, which is mandated by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
With reference from GMA News. Photo: Wikipedia