Jay L. Batongbacal

Professor, College of Law, University of the Philippines

Jay L. Batongbacal is a professor in the College of Law at the University of the Philippines. He is also the executive director of the school's Graduate Studies Programme and concurrently serves as the director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs & Law of the Sea.

Activists stage a protest outside the Chinese Consulate, guarded by Philippine police, on the fifth anniversary of an international arbitral court ruling invalidating Beijing's historical claims over the waters of the South China Sea, in Makati City, Philippines, 12 July 2021. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

While preserving good relations with China, the Philippines must exercise its maritime rights

Since taking office in 2016, Philippine President Duterte has downplayed the South China Sea Arbitration Award in the hope of gaining China’s infrastructure and financial offerings. This hope has so far remained largely unfulfilled. Despite Duterte's stance, various departments in the Philippine government have referenced the Award in defence of the Philippines' legal rights and jurisdiction in its maritime zones. Philippine academic Jay L. Batongbacal says that this and negative public opinion of Duterte’s China policy means that the Award continues to serve as a bedrock for the Philippines to exercise its rights and to delegitimise China’s claims and bullying actions in the South China Sea.