Senators denounce China’s ‘latest act of intimidation’ in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Saturday condemned the latest attempt of the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) to block a resupply mission of the Philippines to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda described the CCG’s behavior as a “latest act of intimidation.”
The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea reported that CCG fired water cannon at a Philippine boat and blocked Philippine Coast Guard vessels in the West Philippine Sea on Friday, November 10, in a bid to stop the resupply mission.
“Contrary to the claim of the Chinese, the Philippine vessels and troops are not trespassing the area,” she pointed out, emphasizing that China’s “flawed nine-dash-line” has long been deemed false by the July 2016 Arbitral Award.
Legarda also stressed that the Philippines’ actions have been consistent with the 2016 Arbitral Award and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. She even asserted that many countries have been recognizing the 2016 Arbitral Award and are refining their positions over the disputed waters based on it.
Legarda called for increased public awareness about the 2016 Arbitral Award and intensified government engagements with traditional allies and relations-building with non-traditional partners.
Senator JV Ejercito echoed Legarda’s statement. He likewise underscored that China should not intimidate Philippine vessels operating within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
“It is crucial to reiterate the verdict of the Hague-based tribunal, constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which ruled that China’s claim of historical rights within its nine-dash line lacks any legal foundation,” Ejercito pointed out.
“The Philippines holds sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its exclusive economic zone,” he asserted.
He also demanded China to vacate the Philippine territory and respect Philippine sovereign rights.
As for Senator Jinggoy Estrada, the government should consider the adopted Senate Resolution No. 79 which recommends several courses of action to address the continuing maritime confrontation, including filing a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly to call on China to stop harassing Philippine vessels and violating the country’s established rights in the West Philippine Sea.
“Recent developments involving China’s unlawful acts and increasing aggression against our vessels are leaving us with no other recourse but to take appropriate action in asserting and securing our sovereign rights over our exclusive economic zone,” Estrada said in a statement.
He said the Philippines has always been guided by the rule of law in claiming its maritime entitlements as it has employed diplomatic modes in dealing with China.
“Sa hindi na mabilang na insidente sa WPS, hindi ni minsan tayo gumawa ng mga hakbang gaya ng mga pambu-bully nila sa atin,” he pointed out.
(In countless incidents in WPS, we never once took steps like the bullying that they do to us.)
Estrada said that even Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a virtual forum of the Chinese Embassy in Manila last January, said that aggression is “not a proper way for neighbors to treat each other.”