A REAFFIRMATION of the Philippines’ claim of sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) before the United Nations General Assembly through a resolution will solidify and rally international support against China’s military and political incursion into Philippine territory.
This was stressed by no less than Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri last night in his sponsorship speech of a Senate resolution urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to sponsor a resolution before the UN calling on China to stop the harassment of Philippine vessels in the WPS.
“Should we successfully pass a resolution before the UNGA, we will in effect be solidifying international support for the sovereignty of the Philippines, and putting pressure on China to keep their military and political activities outside of our Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf,” the Senate President said in his sponsorship speech of Resolution No. 659 filed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
The Philippines, in 2016, has already secured a huge victory when the Permanent Court of Arbitration established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled in favor of the Philippine claim and deemed China’s assertions, including its nine-dash line, as unlawful.
If the DFA would successfully sponsor a resolution before the UNGA, Zubiri said, it would put an international spotlight on China’s unlawful incursions into Philippine territory, in open violation of the 2016 PCA ruling.
“Hindi tayo papayag na tapakan tayo ng kahit na anong bansa, at harap- harapan nilang sakupin kung ano ang atin. Lalaban tayo sa panghihimasok ng gobyerno ng Tsina sa ating Exclusive Economic Zone, at gagawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para ma-protektahan ang kabuhayan at kaligtasan ng mga mangingisdang Pilipino,” Zubiri expressed.
The Senate President also announced during last night’s session that the Senate has called for a caucus on Monday, July 31, with DFA Secretary Enrique A. Manalo, Presidential Adviser on the West Philippine Sea Andres Centino and officials of the National Security Council to discuss the WPS situation and the contents of the Resolution No. 659.
Also, while the DFA explores avenues in the UN to address China’s unlawful activities inside WPS, Zubiri said the Senate will do everything in its power to increase funding support, through the 2024 national budget proposal, to the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that are patrolling the disputed territory and protecting Filipino fishermen.
“We will not simply watch them seize our islands and our waters. We may not have as much military might as they do, at this time, but we will do everything in our power to strengthen support for our Coast Guard and Navy, and we will stand our ground through all means possible … ,” said Zubiri.
At present, the fleet of the Philippine Navy has only three vessels that can conduct long-range patrols, and the same goes for the PCG, which only has three offshore patrol vessels.
Zubiri has earlier described China’s intrusion into Philippine territory in the WPS as “absolutely reprehensible and completely illogical.”
“The 2016 PCA ruling was a historic triumph for us. But it is a triumph that we have not been able to fully enjoy, as China has disrespected it time and time again, their Chinese militia vessels encroaching upon our territory, and harassing our much smaller Coast Guard and Navy vessels,” he said in his sponsorship speech.
“Given China’s blatant disrespect of our waters, we are left with little choice but to once again seek the support and the wisdom of the international community, and impress upon the Chinese government our unwavering commitment to fighting for our sovereignty.”