House adopts resolution condemning China aggression in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — A resolution condemning China’s illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) has been adopted by the House of Representatives.
House Resolution (HR) No. 1494, a consolidation of six different resolutions filed before the House, was adopted via viva voce or voice voting.
According to the resolution, China has continued its intrusion in the WPS despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) decision in 2016, where it was ruled that China has no legal and historical basis for its nine-dash line territorial claim.
“The PCA also ruled that the Chinese government breached its obligations under international law, having violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its continental shelf and [EEZ],” HR No. 1494 read.
“Despite this ruling, China has continued its harassment of Philippine vessels in Philippine territory, including those of the country’s fisherfolk, navy, and coast guard, and they have continued to build illegal structures in the West Philippine Sea, thus undermining peace and stability in the region,” it added.
The resolution also stated that the Philippines should “continue to assert and fight for its rights” in the WPS, and “implement its hard-earned victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, the Netherlands” by strengthening the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
The PCG is at the forefront of securing the country’s maritime territory, often bearing the brunt of Chinese Coast Guard’s intrusive actions.
“The Philippine government must strengthen its ability to patrol and protect the country’s maritime zones by building a self-reliant defense posture program and upgrading the capabilities of the PCG […] in order to have a credible defense posture and a capable PCG, the government must boost the funds allocated to our armed troops and our civilian maritime patrol forces,” the resolution stated.
During the deliberations for the proposed 2024 national budget, there were several calls for more funding for PCG, after it faced continuous harassment from Chinese vessels in the disputed region.
Eventually, before the House passed the General Appropriations Bill on third reading last September 27, party leaders made a commitment to realign confidential funds of civilian agencies to PCG and the other offices securing the WPS.
Several hearings were also conducted at the House after a collision between a PCG vessel and a Chinese Coast Guard ship last October 22, during a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre beached at Ayungin Shoal.
The incident is the latest in a recent string of Chinese intrusion near Ayungin, which is located well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, which stretches 200-nautical miles from its shores.