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LAWMAKER: SEND MORE FILIPINO SCIENTISTS TO WPS

Research ‘pushback’ urged vs China in PH waters

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 04:53 AM November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s educational institutions must “do a strong pushback” by sending more research teams to the West Philippine Sea to assert Philippine sovereignty against China’s “trespassing on our territory,” House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Isagani Zarate said on Monday.

Zarate said the government should also support these activities as China continues its expansionism in Philippine and international waters.

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Marine scientist Deo Florence Onda on Sunday said China was intimidating Filipino scientists doing research in the West Philippine Sea while conducting its own “illegal” research and publishing its findings without acknowledging that its studies were done in Philippine waters.

“[This] institutionalizes their claim, it really strengthens their claim of the area,” warned Onda, an associate professor of the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute.

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According to him, China has also established three research stations within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

But Onda said these stations could not be reached due to the interference of Chinese vessels.

During an expedition by Filipino researchers to Pag-asa Island in October, Onda said the Chinese coast guard kept following them. He claimed that, at one point, the Chinese vessel was close enough to the researchers’ boat.

‘Bully master’

Zarate said: “China is truly now an incorrigible bully master, as it has been encouraged and enabled by the vassal-like pivot to China policy of the Duterte administration these past five years.”

“In the midst of this impunity, we still need a strong pushback. From the study of marine life, oil and natural gas deposits as well as protecting the environment—these studies are also ways of asserting our sovereign rights in these areas,” he added.

The lawmaker encouraged the Philippine Coast Guard to escort Filipino scientists conducting research in the West Philippine Sea.

“Clearly, what the Chinese coast guard did recently against the research team from UP was a violation of the Unclos,” he said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the international treaty that the Philippines and China, among other nations, signed in 1982.

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Zarate cited Article 260 which states that safety zones of a reasonable breadth not exceeding a distance of 500 meters may be created around scientific research installations in accordance with the relevant provisions of Unclos.

He slammed China for “clearly trespassing on our territory,” adding that “it has no right to stop or impede a scientific research of Filipinos in our own country.”

Incursions by Chinese ships believed to be its maritime militia have become more frequent despite a 2016 international arbitral ruling which invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

China refuses to recognize the July 12, 2016, ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, although its basis is the Unclos to which the Asian power is a signatory.

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TAGS: Carlos Isagani Zarate, China intimidation of scientists, Deo Florence Onda, maritime dispute, West Philippine Sea
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