VERA FILES FACT CHECK: President-elect Marcos Jr. shifts gears on SCS arbitral ruling

We will continue to use the 2016 arbitral award to assert our territorial rights.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 05/26/2022 Flip-flop

Four months ago, then-presidential aspirant Marcos Jr. argued that the Philippines was “left with only one option” in dealing with its overlapping claims with China on the West Philippine Sea: bilateral agreement.

(UPDATED) From stating that arbitration was “no longer an option” in dealing with overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea, president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. now says he will assert the 2016 arbitral award, describing it as a “very important ruling in our favor.”

Watch this video:

Macos Jr. made the same argument – that arbitration was “no longer an option” for the Philippines – during a one-on-one interview with entertainment host Boy Abunda on the same day as the DZRH event.

In both Jan. 25 interviews, Marcos Jr. emphasized that war, which he mentioned as the “second option,” should be “dismissed outright” because it would be disadvantageous to both countries. This then leaves the Philippines with a bilateral agreement with China as a recourse, he said (see here and here).

2016 arbitral ruling binding on China

Under Article 9, Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the “[a]bsence or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the [arbitration] proceedings.”

Having ratified UNCLOS in 1996, China was “still a party to the arbitration” and is “bound by any award” issued by the arbitral panel that ruled on the South China Sea dispute, as affirmed by the tribunal’s 2015 Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility.

(See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte is wrong; South China Sea arbitral award binds China, too)


Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 6, 2022 to include the video fact check.

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Bongbong Marcos official Facebook page, LIVE: Interview with President-elect Bongbong Marcos, May 26, 2022

The Boy Abunda Talk Channel, The 2022 Presidential One-On-One Interviews with Boy Abunda featuring Former Senator Bongbong Marcos, Jan. 25, 2022

DZRH News, Bakit Ikaw? The DZRH Presidential Job Interview, Jan. 25, 2022

The Manila Times, Bakit Ikaw: The Presidential Job Interview’ with former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, Jan. 25, 2022

Permanent Court of Arbitration, Award on the South China Sea Arbitration, July 12, 2016

Permanent Court of Arbitration, PRESS RELEASE: The South China Sea Arbitration, July 12, 2016

Permanent Court of Arbitration, Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility, Oct. 29, 2015

United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Accessed May 26, 2022

United Nations, Status of the UNCLOS, Accessed on May 26, 2022



(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)