House bloc seeks probe into alleged Chinese activities in EEZ after discovery of device
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is pushing for an investigation on alleged China’s activities in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) after Filipino fishermen recovered a device — marked with Chinese characters — used in oil explorations.
Under House Resolution No. 1971, a copy of which was sent to the media Wednesday, the bloc said that the presence of the device may point to a possible Chinese oil exploration activity in the country’s waters.
“The presence of the said OBS (ocean bottom seismometer) that may point to a possible Chinese oil exploration activity and other illegal foreign activities in the Philippine territory does not only disrespect the Philippine sovereignty but are also detrimental to Philippine interest, security and development,” the Makabayan lawmakers said.
The fishermen were working on their payao, an artificial reef used to attract and catch fish located about 239 kilometers (129 nautical miles) northwest of Infanta town in Pangasinan province, when his companions saw what looked like a buoy at 4:30 a.m. on July 1.
The device has been turned over to the Philippine Navy.
The Makabayan lawmakers said that the national government should take measures to assert the country’s sovereign rights over the waters, which China has also been claiming.
In 2013, the Philippines under the Aquino administration challenged in the Hague court China’s claim that it owned more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, which includes waters in the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
In 2016, two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, the tribunal ruled that China’s claim had no basis in international law and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea, the waters within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
China has consistently refused to acknowledge the 2016 ruling.
“The 2016 arbitral award is celebrated by the Filipino people as a legal victory and the Philippine government should take measures to effectively enforce it to uphold the Philippine national sovereignty rather than just treating it as a mere piece of paper,” the lawmakers said.
The bloc is composed of Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat; ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro; Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
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