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PH should fight for sovereign rights over SCS territories, say senators

/ 06:00 PM July 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The “whims” of a foreign power treating the entire South China Sea as its territory will never make “unlawful” maritime claims “lawful,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday.

Sotto’s pronouncement comes after US State Secretary Michael Pompeo issued a statement rejecting nearly all of China’s claims in the contested waters.

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“What is unlawful can never be made lawful by the whims and caprices of a foreign power which treats the entire South China Sea as its territory,” Sotto said.

“We shall never and should not shut up into giving up our offshore treasures. Let us continue to hold hands in our fight for our sovereign rights,” he added.

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The Philippines recently commemorated the 4th anniversary of the historic ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague on July 12, 2016, which invalidated China’s expansive claims over the entire South China Sea.

The ruling also upheld the Philippines’ rights over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said the Hague tribunal’s decision rendered in favor of the Philippines is “non-negotiable.”

But the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed that the PCA ruling was “illegal and invalid.”

Sotto said the Philippine government should actively assert its sovereign authority over its territorial resources and “never waver” in its defense of its maritime possessions.

“We should never give up the fight for what is legally ours. We should never cower in fear from the harassment and political intimidation that foreign governments impose on us,” he went on.

“We should stand firm and prove that we as a nation (remain) united in our common desire to claim and protect our sovereign jurisdiction,” he added.

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‘Get out of our waters’

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros slammed China’s repeated refusal to recognize the PCA ruling.

“Hindi pwedeng isasantabi ang ating soberanya at kalayaan (We should not set aside our sovereignty and freedom),” she wrote on Twitter.

“China should respect our victory at The Hague, pay for the damage in the West Philippine Sea, and get out of our waters and off our islands,” she added.

In April, Hontiveros filed a Senate resolution urging the Duterte administration to “exert legal and diplomatic pressure” upon China to end its activities in the West Philippine Sea and to pay compensation to the country for the damaged reefs.

EDV

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TAGS: Global Nation, Hague ruling, maritime claims, maritime territory, news, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Risa Hontiveros, South China sea
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