Makabayan wants July 12 declared as West Philippine Sea Day
MANILA, Philippines — Makabayan bloc lawmakers at the House of Representatives have electronically filed a bill calling for the declaration of July 12 as West Philippine Sea (WPS) Day to mark the Philippines’ victory against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) last 2016.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel confirmed on Wednesday that he and the rest of the Makabayan bloc have filed a still-unnumbered House bill entitled “An Act Declaring July 12 as the West Philippine Sea Day.”
The Makabayan bloc is composed of Manuel, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, and Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas.
“This House Bill seeks to commemorate July 12 as the ‘West Philippine Sea Day’ in remembrance of the 2016 Hague ruling. The bill aims to raise awareness among Filipinos about the significance of the ruling and its implications for the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and marine resources,” the bill said.
If the bill is enacted, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) would be tasked with coordinating with other relevant government agencies to organize commemorative activities on West Philippine Sea Day.
“These activities may include but are not limited to educational campaigns, seminars, forums, exhibitions, and cultural events that highlight the significance of the Hague Ruling, raise awareness about the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea, and emphasize the economic and ecological importance of the West Philippine Sea,” the bill stated.
The country’s victory at the PCA would also be included in the educational curriculum.
Similarly, a public awareness campaign would be conducted to ensure that Filipinos no longer in school would also learn about the WPS dispute.
“The government, through appropriate agencies, shall conduct a nationwide public awareness campaign to inform the Filipino people about the West Philippine Sea issue, the Hague Ruling, and the importance of safeguarding the country’s sovereign rights and territorial integrity, as well as the economic and ecological importance of the West Philippine Sea, especially to fishing communities along the coastline,” the bill read.
“The campaign shall utilize various media platforms, including but not limited to television, radio, print, and online channels.”
On July 12, 2016, the PCA decided that China’s nine-dash claim over the WPS has no historical or legal basis. The PCA reached its decision after lawyers backed by the administration of then-President Benigno Aquino III took the case to the Hague.
China did not participate in the discussions despite being asked by PCA, and it has not recognized the ruling.
Despite the ruling, China’s incursion over the WPS did not stop — leading to several incidents and diplomatic protests filed over the years, even as the country enjoyed better ties with Beijing under Aquino’s successor, then-President Rodrigo Duterte.
The incursions continued even during the current administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who had assured the public several times that the Philippines would not lose an inch of its territory.