Senate votes for revised resolution on West PH Sea | Inquirer News

Senate votes for revised resolution on West PH Sea

/ 05:56 AM August 02, 2023

Senate votes for revised resolution on West Philippine Sea

Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri (Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines — After more than a month of debates and closed-door discussions on bringing to the United Nations General Assembly the matter of China’s incursions into the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Senate on Tuesday voted unanimously to call on the Philippine government to intensify its efforts in “asserting and securing” the country’s sovereignty.

This united stand, however, stopped short of directing the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to raise China’s incursions before the UN General Assembly, as originally called for by Senate Resolution No. 659 which Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed on June 19.


Instead, Hontiveros’ resolution was merged with a second resolution filed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.


Under the new Senate Resolution No. 718, engaging the United Nations was now only an option for “appropriate action” by the Executive.

Whereas SR 659 urges the DFA to sponsor a resolution before the UN calling on China to stop its harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea, Zubiri’s resolution merely “strongly condemns” the continued harassment of Filipino fishermen.

Zubiri said SR 718 was accepted by all senators following closed-door consultations with officials of the DFA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

‘Rally, engage’

The resolution provided the DFA with a five-pronged approach to carry out its mandate in asserting the Philippines’ sovereign rights—including filing a UN resolution to call for the cessation of all activities that harass Philippine vessels and violate the Philippines’ established rights in the West Philippine Sea, “subject to necessity and prudence.”

The resolution also listed instances of China’s continued “illegal” incursions into waters constituting the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, as affirmed by the arbitral tribunal’s 2016 ruling on the case brought by the Philippines in 2013 against China.

The ruling by the Hague court declared that China had no legal basis for its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.


“Rather than comply with the decision, the Chinese government has instead chosen to ramp up its harassment of Philippine vessels, including those of the country’s fisherfolk, navy and coast guard, thus undermining peace and stability in the region,” the new Senate resolution read.

SR 718 also urges the DFA to “utilize international fora to rally multilateral support for the enforcement of the Hague ruling and raise awareness on the real situation in Philippine waters.”

The resolution also called on the government to “engage like-minded countries” in the international community to call on China to respect the Hague ruling and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

‘Strengthened the position’

Hontiveros nevertheless considered the bipartisan passage of SR 718 as a “significant victory for the entire nation.”

“This bipartisan effort tells the Filipino people that when it comes to matters of national sovereignty, we will never be bullied into submission,” she said in her manifestation following the resolution’s approval.

She thanked her colleagues for passing the resolution amid “relentless China propaganda.”

“The fight against China’s reckless behavior in the West Philippine Sea does not end here. The fight goes on,” she said.

Zubiri defended the new resolution.

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“I think what happened here is we strengthened the position of the government….And the beauty of this is, with proper consensus and of course consultations among our colleagues, we have come out unanimous,” he said.


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TAGS: Juan Miguel Zubiri, maritime dispute, PH-China relations, Risa Hontiveros, West Philippine Sea

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