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Unlawful challenges at WPS

Manila Standard

THE Philippines today marks the 126th anniversary of the proclamation of its independence, staring at unlawful challenges in the West Philippine Sea.

Themed ‘Kalayaan, Kinabukasan, Kasaysayan (Freedom, Tomorrow, History) the nationwide celebration – from Tawi Tawi to Batanes – will be spearheaded by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines with the bayside Rizal Park as center of the activities.

The celebration is underlined by a resolution filed Monday by House Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Erwin Tulfo urging the government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to sponsor a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly aimed at compelling China to stop unlawful actions in the West Philippine Sea.

House Resolution 1766 was filed in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“The landmark decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Case 2013-19, known as Republic of the Philippines vs. People’s Republic of China, conclusively invalidated the Chinese government’s expansive claims under the so-called ‘nine-dash line,’ declaring such to be incompatible with the provisions of UNCLOS, thus upholding the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its EEZ and continental shelf in the WPS,” Tulfo said.

Tulfo is on track when he said China, despite the PCA ruling, has “steadfastly refused to acknowledge and comply with the arbitration award, persisting in its increasingly unlawful actions in the WPS, including the harassment of Philippine vessels and construction of artificial islands equipped with military installations, airstrips, and other strategic infrastructure within Philippine waters.”

Tulfo’s resolution said “This year alone, aggressive maneuvers and water cannon attacks by Chinese vessels against the Philippine Coast Guard and Filipino fisherfolk underscore China’s blatant disregard for international law and the legal maritime rights of the Philippines, thereby diminishing our territorial integrity and compromising regional stability and security.”

Last month China promulgated “Regulations on Administrative Law Enforcement Procedures for Coast Guard Agencies” effective June 15, 2024, which reportedly authorizes the China Coast Guard to detain foreign nationals suspected of “illegal entry” into its waters for up to 60 days without trial.

That deadline is three days from today.

We agree with Tulfo this further aggravates the already inflammable situation “and poses a direct challenge to well-settled international maritime laws and principles.”

We note the resolution is in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s earlier statement on the Philippines’ unwavering commitment to resolving disputes through peaceful means, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in addressing complex regional issues.

We are keeping close tabs on what the government, through the DFA, will do in face of these challenges posed by China.

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