Aquino on arbitration tribunal ruling: It is a victory for all nations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Former President Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday the case his government filed against China three years ago wasn’t easy — but the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal proves it was worth it and the Philippines’ victory is for Filipinos and all countries to celebrate.

“We want to thank the Permanent Court of Arbitration for their fair judgment, and we would also like to extend our gratitude for the clarity with which they presented their ruling,” Aquino said in a statement.

“Might I say: The decision to pursue arbitration was not an easy one to make,” he said. “Going into arbitration was called a game-changer. We foresaw and experienced the pressures in taking this route; yet until the end, we stood our ground.”

His government filed the case challenging China’s nine-dash line maritime claims in the South China Sea in January 2013, angering Beijing, which refused to participate in the proceedings.

Announcing its decision on Tuesday, the Tribunal scrapped Beijing’s massive claims, saying China violated the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and destroyed the marine environment in its island-building frenzy.

Watch: PH maritime case: What's at stake

“I am, of course, quite elated particularly since all points we had raised were affirmed,” Aquino said, referring to arguments Manila raised against Beijing in the case it filed under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Aquino said that after the row over the disputed areas in the South China Sea festered for decades, “international law has been made clearer with this monumental decision.”

“This of course deals with the Philippines and China, clarifying each state's rights and obligations; but as our lead counsel said, it also has very strong implications as far as other coastal states are concerned, with regard to UNCLOS,” Aquino said.

Also read: Why the Philippines' South China Sea legal case matters

The former president also enjoined stakeholders not to view the decision as a victory only of the Philippines but “a victory for all.”

“I say this because the clarity rendered now establishes better conditions that enable countries to engage each other, bearing in mind their duties and rights within a context that espouses equality and amity,” he said.

He encouraged everyone to read the decision to fully understand the issues involved.

“Now that the rules are even clearer, we can all move forward as a global community. Without doubt, this long-running dispute is now closer to having a permanent solution,” Aquino said.

Also read: Top Filipino legal minds applaud Arbitral Tribunal’s decision, advise Duterte to proceed with caution

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