China owes PHL over P800 billion due to ruined reefs, looted fish – Hontiveros

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Senator Risa Hontiveros has reiterated her call to have the Chinese government pay reparations for the value of the wealth and marine life stolen in the West Philippine Sea due to Beijing’s adventurism in the disputed waters.

“Time to pay up. Dati nang umayaw ang Chinese Embassy nang naningil tayo ng mahigit sa P200 billion dahil sa paninira ng Tsina sa WPS mula 2013. Pero ngayon, umabot na sa higit walong daang bilyon ang halaga ng paninira nila sa ating likas-yaman, kaya patuloy ang ating pangangalampag, ” Hontiveros said.

The senator cited the P231.7 billion worth of ruined reefs for seven years, as published by the international journal Ecosystem Services last year. The value per coral reef was pegged at P18 million, and this amount was multiplied by 1,850 hectares of reef ecosystems in Panatag and Spratlys that have been damaged by China.

Additionally, there has been a total of P644 billion looted fish catch since 2014, according to recent computations of investigative journalist Jarius Bondoc. He arrived at the number by multiplying the 1.2 million tons of fish that are usually caught by Chinese vessels in Zamora and Panganiban reefs annually, with Seafdec’s estimated value per ton of fish catch in the South China Sea at P76,710.

Last year, Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 369 to have China foot the bill of our COVID-19 response by paying the over P200B worth of reparations owed to the Philippines due to its activities in the WPS. She said this amount should now be updated to include the recent computations.

“We cannot take back the marine resources that China has destroyed in the WPS. Habulin natin ang Tsina sa utang nila. Huwag nating sanaying naabswelto na lang sila palagi sa mga pang-aabuso nila sa ating bansa. Hinaharass na nga nila ang ating mga mangingisda, sinisira pa ang ating likas-yaman. Let’s not allow China to get away with this,” Hontiveros said.

Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario had said that livelihoods of 350,000 fisherfolk have been negatively affected by China’s presence in the WPS.

“Patuloy ang panghihimasok ng Tsina sa gitna ng pandemya. Bilyon-bilyong pisong halaga ng yamang dagat ang kanilang sinisira, habang iniinda ng mga Pilipino ang napakamahal na presyo ng isda, at iba pang bilihin,” the senator said.

The senator emphasized that Filipinos have the legitimate right to demand reparations. In fact, Japan already paid the Philippines reparations for, among others, the destruction of Manila during World War II. The United States also paid the Philippines after the USS Guardian gashed corals around the Sulu Sea in 2015. “We have to find a way to make China pay. Kung ang ibang bansa nagbayad, bakit ang China, hindi? Dahil sa ‘special relationship’ na naman ba? Huwag na nating hayaang lumobo pa ang kanilang utang dahil sa huli, ang Pilipinas at ang Pilipino nanaman ang lugi,” Hontiveros concluded. SENATE.GOV.PH