Manila: A protest was staged outside the Chinese consulate in this Philippines capital city on Tuesday ahead of a long-awaited ruling over the disputed South China Sea.

One of the protest organisers included the leftist political party Bayan Muna, which brought some of its members to the event, as well as several fishermen from the Masinloc area of northwestern Zambales province, EFE news reported.

That province is near the Scarborough Shoal, a chain of reefs and rocks with rich fishing grounds and the subject of the Philippines vs China case at the International Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.

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During a speech by the leader of the Masinloc fisherman, one of the organisers said that if The Hague court rules in favour of the Philippines, fishermen can return to catching many large fish in the disputed area, which they had struggled to do for some time because Chinese coast guard ships blocked their boats.

A Philippine-American group in Manila plans to hold a balloon-releasing event later in the day in anticipation that the arbitration court will rule in the Philippines’ favour.

The Philippines first filed the islands dispute case at the international court in 2013, which irked China as it claims the matter should be settled through bilateral negotiations.

China claims about 90% of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands, which are also claimed by others.

China said it does not recognise the tribunal and has refused to take part in the hearings.

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