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Senate hits China actions in WPS

Photo from Senator Joel Villanueva’s Official FB page
Macon Ramos-Araneta & Rey E. Requejo

Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday filed a resolution strongly condemning China’s unprovoked acts of aggression, continued harassment, and illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea.

In Senate Resolution No. 980, Villanueva said China’s actions violate the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling invalidating its nine-dash-line massive claim over the South China Sea and threaten Filipinos, the Philippine national security, and marine resources.

“The foregoing acts of aggression and the Chinese government’s response display a pattern that has been consistently employed by China, notwithstanding the PCA award and the provisions of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). As in previous incidents, the People’s Republic of China has continued to ignore the PCA Award and deny the harassment and intimidation claims of the Philippines,” he said.

The resolution also urged the executive branch to exert all legal and diplomatic countermeasures against China.

Senator Imee Marcos, for his part, said the country should engage in proper talks with China and other claimants in the WPS through “prevalence of reason and not emotion.”

“Let us be strong in the midst of this challenge, but calm thinking and speech, and calculated decisions, should prevail,” the senator said.

She said if an emotional approach continues to prevail, this could lead the country “to a dangerous path that will cost us more than just Filipino pride.”

The President earlier said the Philippines would not be cowed into silence amid China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.

“We seek no conflict with any nation, more so nations that purport and claim to be our friends, but we will not be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience. Filipinos do not yield,” Mr. Marcos said.

National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya, for his part, said the government will exhaust all diplomatic means and not just military response to prevent conflict in the WPS.

“The proportionate, deliberate and reasonable response that the President was talking about covered not only the aspect of strengthening our military or our defense capabilities together with other allies, partners and friends but it also talks about exhausting diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue,” Malaya said in a press briefing.

Malaya said war is not in the interest of the Philippines or any of the country’s allies and partners.

“So given that, we will have to find a diplomatic solution for these problems as part of the package of counter measures and responses that the President spoke about,” he said.

China, for its part, declined to comment on the possibility that the Philippines will file another arbitral case for the destruction of the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea.

“No comment now,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila said on Monday when asked to comment about the Philippines’ plan.

However, the embassy said the “basic principle of state consent” in international law must be abided.

Former Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio earlier revealed that the Department of Justice is already preparing to file charges against China.

Carpio said the new arbitral case will be different from the first one, which can hardly be enforced by the Philippines.

The new complaint will now seek monetary damages from China for its activities that have damaged the natural habitat of the country’s seabed, he said.

President Marcos last week reorganized the central inter-agency body tasked to provide a strategic approach in addressing territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea in a bid to strengthen maritime security and domain awareness.

The President, through Executive Order No. 57, reorganized the National Coast Watch Council into the National Maritime Council.

“Despite efforts to promote stability and security in our maritime domain, the Philippines continues to confront a range of serious challenges that threaten not only the country’s territorial integrity, but also the peaceful existence of Filipinos, including their fundamental right to live in peace and freedom, free from fear of violence and threat,” Mr. Marcos said in EO 57.

The EO was released days after the latest string of dangerous maneuvers and water cannon attack by China against Philippine vessels.

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