Gov’t urged to act immediately on latest issues concerning West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — The government should act immediately on two developments concerning the West Philippine Sea: It should investigate the reported dumping of human waste by Chinese ships in the area, and it should summon the Chinese ambassador to explain the statement of China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissing the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration as “a piece of waster paper.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat said on Tuesday that the government should immediately investigate reports that Chinese ships have dumped human waste near the country’s reefs at the West Philippine Sea as it may degrade the marine ecosystem in the area.
“This dumping of human waste by big ships from China in our sea is very glaring. This will cause big damage to our sea resources. Many fishermen are already suffering from the aggression of China in the West Philippine Sea. Now, China is turning us into a toilet,” Cullamat said in Filipino in a statement.
“The DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] should immediately investigate and resolve the destruction being inflicted by big ships from China,” she added.
In a separate statement, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) urged Malacañang to summon the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, to protest the statement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, calling the arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines in the maritime dispute as “a piece of waster paper.”
“Malacanang should summon the Chinese ambassador to Manila over the utterly disrespectful, crass statements made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson on the anniversary of the Philippine victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The spokesperson called our legal victory a ‘piece of waste paper.’ This is totally unacceptable,” Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes said.
“Our victory in the arbitral tribunal is celebrated widely. China spits in the face of Filipinos when it calls our victory nothing more than a piece of waste paper. The Philippine government should not allow this insult to pass without raising a howl of protest,” he added.
The ruling, which the PCA made on July 12, 2016, recognized the exclusive rights of the Philippines over the West Philippines Sea and pronounced that China’s nine-dash line claim — an imaginary line that claims most of the South China Sea as a part of Chinese — had no legal and historical basis.
Regarding the dumping of human waste over the disputed seas, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that authorities were still verifying whether the information relayed was accurate, noting that the study done by Simularity referred to an incident in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and not in the West Philippine Sea.
The news about the human waste dumping, which came out on Monday, outraged Filipinos, with senators demanding an investigation. But Lorenzana also questioned how Simularity was able to conclude that human waste was being dumped into the area by merely looking at satellite images.
These two issues are the latest of several incidents in 2021 that kept the tension high between China and the Philippines.
Last March, the Philippines protested the presence of over 220 Chinese maritime militia ships — disguised as fishing vessels — near Julian Felipe Reef, which lies about 260 kilometers west of Bataraza, Palawan — well within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
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