Members of Bayan Muna hold a picket in front of Chinese consulate in Makati on Friday April 17 to protest against China's reclamation activities in Panganiban Reef, part of the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. Recent satellite pictures showed the Chinese constructing facilities in the area. (MNS Photo)

Members of Bayan Muna hold a picket in front of Chinese consulate in Makati on Friday April 17 to protest against China’s reclamation activities in Panganiban Reef, part of the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. Recent satellite pictures showed the Chinese constructing facilities in the area. (MNS Photo)

MANILA, July 8 (Mabuhay) — Can foreign lawyers competently defend the Philippines’ arbitration case challenging China’s massive claim on resource-rich parts of the South China Sea?

Malacañang on Wednesday vouched for the competence of lawyers from the United States and the United Kingdom hired by the Philippines to help argue its case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.

At a press briefing, presidential spokesman Sec. Edwin Lacierda said these foreign lawyers already have experience in facing the arbitral tribunal.

“These are lawyers who have international reputation appearing before the tribunal. We can rely on them. They’ve been with us from the start, since we filed the case,” Lacierda told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

Asked why the government did not opt for an all-Filipino delegation, Lacierda replied, “We have the knowledge, but in so far as appearing before international tribunal, you get the best persons you can hire for that.”

“It will be foolhardy for us not to hire experts with experience with appearing before this tribunal,” he added.

On Tuesday, the Philippine delegation began presenting arguments before the arbitral tribunal on why the court should exercise its jurisdiction over Manila’s case against Beijing.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario were the first ones to speak for the Philippines.

Foreign counsels were also tapped to argue the Philippines’ case before the arbitration court. They are:

Paul S. Reichler and Lawrence H. Martin (Foley Hoag LLP, Washington DC, United States of America);
Professor Bernard H. Oxman (University of Miami School of Law, Miami, United States of America);
Professor Philippe Sands QC (Matrix Chambers, London, United Kingdom) and
Professor Alan Boyle (Essex Court Chambers, London, United Kingdom).

The foreign lawyers are “closely coordinating” with Hilbay on the Philippines’ legal strategy to defend its case before the arbitration court, Lacierda said. (MNS)