DFA seeks additional funding to promote 2016 arbitral victory vs. China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is asking Congress for additional funding to promote the country's 2016 legal victory against China over the West Philippine Sea.

The department is requesting ₱29 million to pursue a "campaign approach" in promoting the arbitral award, which the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague handed down in 2016.

The Hague tribunal rejected China's nine-dash claim to virtually the entire South China Sea and recognized the Philippines' sovereign rights in parts of its exclusive economic zone which Beijing contests.

In a PowerPoint presentation shown by Assistant Secretary Sulpicio Confiado during a Senate budget hearing on Friday, the department said the campaign is needed "to gain stronger support from the international community for the rule of law, which the arbitral award represents."

Among the initiatives the DFA seeks to launch is the publication of a book on "Philippine milestones" in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The DFA added that part of the budget will be used to pay personnel managing the application process for marine scientific research (MSR) in the West Philippine Sea. It said this will show the country is "implementing its duties as a coastal state, as defined by UNCLOS and reinforced by the 2016 arbitral award which recognized illegal MSR activities" in the disputed waters.

The department also said it will tap academics to publish think pieces on the issue, among other strategies.

This appeal is part of a set of requests made by the DFA to Congress, which include restoring the budget cuts in its consular operations, and a ₱6-million funding for the newly established Office of Civilian Security.

In total, Confiado said these requests require an extra ₱2.38 billion -- which is apart from the agency's proposed ₱20.304-billion budget that was separately presented by DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo during the hearing.