AT least 11 senators have filed Senate Resolution 708 to condemn China’s illegal activities in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and in other parts of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
They were Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Leila de Lima, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Richard “Dick” Gordon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Mary Grace Poe, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Emmanuel Joel Villanueva.
SR 708 seeks to assert that China’s activities are in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and the 2016 award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favor of the Philippines.
“It makes clear that China refusing to play by international rules “must be firmly resisted and denounced,” the senators stressed in the resolution.
SR 708 also states that “neither close diplomatic and political ties nor promise of donations, aids or loans, whether they actually materialize or not, should be mistaken as acceptance of China’s creeping hegemony over our region and country.”
“I am one with my colleagues in the Senate in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, China’s incessant activities in the WPS,”
“We are united in our call for China to uphold the rule of law and to respect our country’s sovereignty,” Hontiveros said on Tuesday in a statement.
She noted that several groups — such as fisherfolk groups from affected provinces, the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, the PMA Retirees Association, and business groups, among others — have jointly condemned China’s “aggressive behavior” in the WPS.
She added that the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, as well as Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia have pushed back against China’s recent actions in the South China Sea.
“Our voices are getting louder and stronger. We must keep asserting our victory at the Hague. We must keep making China accountable for her actions. We must keep defending our sovereignty and we must keep protecting the Filipino people,” she said.
“The more that we consistently amplify our voices, the more that China will be forced to finally rethink her actions,” Hontiveros said.
She had pressed China to pay over P800 billion in reparations for the environmental and economic damage it caused to the WPS due to its illegal activities in the area. She said that the money could be used for the nation’s Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) response.
“We cannot shirk our collective responsibility to defend the Philippines. China’s overreaching ambitions should never be at the expense of any country, and therefore, her moves that endanger any nation should be blocked at every turn,” she said.