Remulla proposes calling WPS the ‘Sea of Asia’

Remulla proposes calling WPS the ‘Sea of Asia’

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:40 AM October 27, 2023

Remulla proposes calling WPS the ‘Sea of Asia’

DAMAGED REEF Videograb from the Philippine Coast Guard shows the damage sustained at Escoda Shoal in September. —PCG FB PAGE

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Thursday said the Philippines is eyeing to file an environmental case against China before an international tribunal by early next year, over alleged destruction of corals and other “innumerable and immeasurable” environmental crimes in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“The time is ripe for the world to know the losses we are suffering because of what China has been doing in our sea, and this action could benefit the entire world,” he said in a press briefing.

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In pursuing the case, Remulla proposed calling WPS the “Sea of Asia.” He pointed out it is “a strategy aimed at making the case relevant to the international community.”

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He said they hope they will be ready to file the case by “January or February or March at the latest.” He added, “We have a lot of evidence and we will continue to gather more.”

Remulla said the decision to file a case was reached following his meeting on Thursday with former Supreme Court Associate Justice and former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, international environmental law expert Antonio Oposa, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela, Transportation Assistant Secretary Julius Yano and other environmental experts.

“We sought advice from legal experts like them on how we can file a case before an international tribunal concerning our environmental problem,” he said, noting that the legal experts are well-versed in international litigation.

“We were encouraged to pursue what we think is a good case to pursue in behalf not only of the Filipino people but the rest of humanity,” he added.Strong evidence

In a separate statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the Philippine government is actively building its case “with strong evidence already on hand.”

The justice secretary said among the pieces of evidence included is the documentation by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on the environmental destruction in the WPS.

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“Our evidence is documented,” he said when asked if the Philippines has a strong case against China. “It’s just a matter of organizing the evidence and showing it to the proper tribunal. That’s what’s important, file a case before a tribunal.”

To further strengthen the case, the DOJ said it plans to dispatch PCG vessels to the WPS “to meticulously document the environmental damage attributable to the activities of [China].”

READ: DOJ chief: Case vs China for environmental damage to be filed early 2024

The justice secretary said the new case would hopefully compel China to respect international maritime laws.“World opinion is very important. If these people cannot respect the environment, these people cannot respect rules, why should we respect them?” he said.

Shame campaign

“This is also like a shame campaign. If you’re doing this to us, we’ll let the world see what you have been doing,” he added.

Filing a case against China is an “endeavor that not only represents the Philippine government’s interests but also carries broader implications for the entire continent and global community.”

Remulla said the term “Sea of Asia” means the body of water is a shared resource for the whole world, but he emphasized it is in no way an indication of the Philippines diluting or weakening its territorial claims or stance.

“This is not a reflection of the Philippines compromising its territorial claims. The terminology serves as a focal point to draw attention to the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) environmental transgressions in the waters around Asia, urging the rest of the region, as well as the global community to unite against these harmful actions and recognize our shared responsibility to protect and sustain it,” the DOJ said in a separate statement.

“The spotlight here is not on the ongoing China vs Philippines territorial dispute. Instead, we are choosing to focus on the more pressing issue at hand: the environmental degradation and destruction by China of the waters around Asia,” said DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano.

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“By adopting this term for this specific case, we aim to rally the international community against harmful environmental actions, emphasizing that no matter who claims ownership, the responsibility to protect and preserve it is a shared one,” Clavano added.

TAGS: China, DoJ, West Philippine Sea

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