Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and 10 other senators crossed party lines Monday in filing a strongly-worded resolution denouncing the illegal activities of China in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EZZ) and other parts of the West Philippine Sea.
In filing Senate Resolution 708, principally authored by Drilon, the senators stressed that the continued presence of Chinese vessels into the country’s territories violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Aside from Drilon, senators both in the minority and majority blocs co-authored the resolution, including Senators Ralph Recto, Nancy Binay, Leila De Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Lito Lapid, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, and Bong Revilla.
The strongly-worded bipartisan resolution supports the position of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, according to Drilon.
“We must contribute our share in generating public opinion against this unlawful act of the Chinese government. We will file this resolution to express the sentiment of the Senate as a partner of the executive insofar as foreign policy is concerned,” Drilon said in an interview with CNN.
“What China is doing is contrary to the arbitration award and does not promote stability int the region,” he stressed.
“China should not be allowed to rewrite or nullify the UNCLOS, which was painstakingly negotiated and ratified by various States, as such blatant disregard of established international law not only has serious ramifications on a rules-based international order but likewise deprives Philippine fishermen of livelihood, prevents the Philippines from fully taking advantage of the resources within its exclusive economic zone, causes irreparable damage to the marine environment due to pollution and destruction of coral reefs, and serves to militarize the South China Sea,” the senators stressed.
They added that China’s illegal activities in the WPS threaten the peace and security in this region and the world.
The move by the 11 senators came as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has lodged a series of diplomatic protests over the continued presence of the Chinese ships within the Philippine EEZ.
Notwithstanding the diplomatic protests filed and the strong public statements made by Secretaries Locsin and Lorenzana, the sovereignty patrols conducted by the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea last April 11 revealed that an estimated 240 vessels continue to linger in the Philippine EEZ, with 136 Chinese vessels spotted at Burgos Reef, and various other vessels in the Ayungin Shoal, Mischief, Chigua, Panganiban, and Zamora Reefs, Pag-Asa, Likas, and Kota Islands, along with two Houbei class missile warships at Panganiban Reef, one corvette-class warship at Kagitingan Reef, one navy tugboat at Zamora Reef, Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Pag-Asa Islands, and Chinese maritime militia vessels in Bajo De Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), the resolution states.
“The acts described are in clear violation of Article 60 of the UNCLOS which states that “in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have the exclusive right to construct and to authorize and regulate the construction, operation, and use of artificial islands, installations and structures” and as such the reclamation and construction undertaken by China within the Philippine EEZ are illegal, and no legitimate claims may emanate from such illegally constructed artificial islands or structures,” the senators asserted.
Once approved by the Senate, it would condemn in the strongest possible terms the illegal activities of the People’s Republic of China, in violation of the United Nations United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
“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, and no promise of economic largesse often undelivered should soften our resolve against these illegal and unwarranted incursions,” the 11 senators stressed in the resolution.
They further stressed: “The UNCLOS serves as the Constitution for the oceans and is an international treaty codifying customary international law, which does not regard the display of military might or strength as a valid means for appropriating or claiming maritime areas and resources, the same having been ascribed to coastal states based only on an established legal framework which was agreed upon when the Convention was adopted on December 1982, entered into force in November 1994, and ratified by One Hundred Sixty-Seven (167) States and the European Union.” SENATE.GOV.PH