FACT CHECK News South China Sea: Waters of Contention

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Should credit go to Calida for winning the West Philippine Sea case?

In giving a rundown of the Office of the Solicitor General’s accomplishments since he went on board on July 1, 2016, Solicitor General Jose Calida appeared to have grabbed credit from his predecessors.


In a press briefing held on Thursday in Malacañang, Calida gave the Malacañang Press Corps some “highlights of what we accomplished at the Office of the Solicitor General.”

“Now to go to our accomplishments, the biggest case that was decided during my watch was the West Philippine Sea case, in which we won by a unanimous decision.”

(Source: Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Solicitor General Jose Calida‬, ‬PTV-4, watch from 03:33 – 03:50)


The term “under my watch” or “on one’s watch” connotes that something happened while someone is in charge. (Source:

Though the Permanent Court of Arbitration or PCA came out with its ruling on July 12, 2016, the court had already announced the schedule of the decision’s release on June 29, before Calida was in office.

Touted as a historic ruling that favored the Philippines, the proceedings began in 2013, after the Aquino administration initiated arbitration against China to challenge China’s claims to parts of the South China Sea, domestically referred to as West Philippine Sea.

The Office of the Solicitor General, then headed by Francis Jardeleza, was the Philippines’ legal representative in the arbitral proceedings. He was replaced by Florin Hilbay when he was appointed to the Supreme Court.

Aside from Jardeleza and Hilbay, the Philippine legal team included Paul Reichler of Foley and Hoag LLP as legal counsel, professors Bernard Oxman, Philippe Sands and Alan Boyle, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.


PCA Press Release

DFA announcement on the arbitral proceedings