Why China has not lambasted the foreign lawyers representing the Philippines in the South China Sea arbitration

ITLOS-8-Counsel-Paul-Reichler

Now read about the five foreign lawyers. - Today, the Chinese news agency Xinhua posted a piece about the "law-abusing tribunal" that is about to release its decision on the South China Sea arbitration in a matter of hours. Strangely, though, Chinese officials and the state media have not resorted to name-calling the five foreign lawyers whom the Philippines hired as legal counsel for the arbitration suit. At the end of this piece, which examines the lawyers' credentials, Dr. Alfredo C. Robles gives a plausible explanation for Beijing's profound silence.

Read on >

Meet the five Judges in the South China Sea arbitration court

China has been aggressively trolling the five judges of the Tribunal without let-up, calling them names, casting doubt on their credentials and dismissing their imminent collective ruling as 'garbage'. Altogether, the judges combine nearly two centuries worth of legal knowledge. However, this ruling can still make or break them. In other words, the judges' individual, professional reputation is on the line with this decision. Even as I write this, their deed is done. The only thing left to do is to spell check their ruling, lay it out and get it ready for uploading in 24 hours. While the conflict has obtained a lot of media mileage, there have been few write-ups on the judges themselves who seem to be mostly legal scholars born before the Second World War or immediately afterward. They have seen how nations went to war over disputes and how they tried to settle differences through negotiations or arbitration. I asked my brother-in-law, a retired De la Salle University professor of international studies, to write something about the five judges: who they are, what they have done in life and what they have contributed to dispute settlements.

Read on >

Exclusive: China secretly lobbied with arbitral court to scrap Philippine suit on South China Sea

But the tribunal courteously rebuffed the approach - By Alfredo C. Robles, Jr. - Permanent-Court-of-Arbitration-logoChina has intensified its diplomatic campaign against the arbitration. In the last few months China has even targeted the members of the Tribunal, accusing them of “fail[ing] to be impartial” and of being “careless” and “irresponsible. Thankfully we do not owe this extraordinary outburst to a member of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Protocol Department but to a deputy director-general of the Ministry’s Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs. Although courtesy was probably far from the mind of Xiao Jianguo, he should have remembered that modicum of explanation for such grave accusations was necessary. Regrettably the only justification provided in the press release was that “many loopholes could be found in its award”, a statement followed by a repetition of the same arguments that China has been trotting out on any and every occasion. Lately, China has even taken to describing the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) as a "law-abusing" tribunal whose ruling would be "a piece of trash paper".

Read on >

Oops, did the Chinese spokesman read the comments to Togo’s press release backing China’s South China Sea stance?

China has been frantically gathering countries to back its position on the South China Sea dispute. Nine countries, including Togo, have issued statements of support. But below Togo's statement, one commenter criticized China for trying to bully small countries.

Read on >

Is President Duterte violating the law by ordering a stop to ‘tanim bala’ arrests?

Tanim-bala

Just my opinion by Raïssa Robles - Tanim-balaPresident Rodrigo Duterte believes he has found the solution to “tanim bala”, one of the most embarrassing and politically damaging issues faced by the previous administration. Simply put, match the bullet with the bearer.

Read on >

I meet members of the Duterte government at the US Embassy’s Independence Day reception

By Raïssa Robles - I've just come from the July 4 Independence Day reception of the US Embassy in Manila. July-4,-2016---1 Normally, I don't attend such affairs. But it was my first time to be invited. And I was curious to see who among the members of President Rodrigo Duterte's government would show up, considering that Duterte himself had made noises critical of the US government.

Read on >

Philippine land rights activists look to President Rodrigo Duterte for justice

Michelle Campos. PHOTO courtesy of globalwitness.or

By Raïssa Robles - Much of the conflict in the Philippines arise from squabbles over land and how to use it. For decades, wealthy and the powerful personalities have controlled land use. Thanks to them, many of our mountains are nearly bald from logging. And now, they are training their sights on the valuable ore lying beneath vast tracts of land. Many of these areas happen to be collectively owned by indigenous communities. Here is my latest story on the battle over land, which appeared today in South China Morning Post (HK).

Read on >

How  I was convinced I won an International Award for Excellence in Journalism

By Raïssa Robles - The news came via email, right when I was low batt. At first I thought it was a scam or someone was pranking me.

Read on >

Confirmed: Bongbong and Imee Marcos are guests at Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential inauguration

It's no wonder Vice-President Leni Robredo was excluded - By Raïssa Robles - The legally elected vice president isn’t welcome. But the children of the country’s worst political criminal will be honored guests. The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' daughter Imee herself confirmed that she was going to Malacañang Palace tomorrow for the presidential inauguration.

Read on >