Senate condemns China's actions in West Philippine Sea

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Senate condemns China's actions in West Philippine Sea
This photo taken on April 23, 2023 shows a member of the Philippine coast guard vessel BRP Malabrigo manning his post while being shadowed by a Chinese coast guard ship at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate unanimously adopted Tuesday a resolution condemning China’s continued harassment of Filipino fishermen and its persistent incursions in the West Philippine Sea. 

The resolution, which expresses the sentiment of the upper chamber but is non-binding, also urged the Philippine government “to take appropriate action in asserting and securing” the country’s sovereign rights, and “to call on China to stop its illegal activities.”

The Philippines and other nations have repeatedly criticized Beijing’s aggressive actions in the resource-rich waterway, including the harassment of Philippine vessels by Chinese coast guard, navy and maritime militias, and the construction of artificial islands. 

“This bipartisan effort tells the Filipino people that when it comes to matters of national sovereignty, we will never be bullied into submission,” said Sen. Risa Hontiveros, one of the senators who filed the resolution.

“The fight against China's reckless behavior in the West Philippine Sea does not end here,” she added. 

An earlier Senate resolution filed by Hontiveros called on the government to raise Beijing’s acts before the United Nations General Assembly. Senators held a closed-door meeting Monday with security officials and Foreign Affairs chief Enrique Manalo to discuss the upper chamber’s stand on Hontiveros’ resolution.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri stressed that Hontiveros’ resolution was not “watered down.” 

“What happened here was we strengthened the position of the government. Now, we gave them several options to choose on how to deal with our neighbors in the north,” he said. 

The resolution urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to bring international attention to China’s harassment of Filipino fishers and its continued violation of The Hague ruling, utilize international fora to rally multilateral support for the enforcement of the landmark decision and raise awareness on the situation in the West Philippine Sea, and engage “like-minded” countries to call on Beijing to respect the ruling. 

The resolution also called on the DFA to file a resolution before the UNGA, to call for the cessation of activities that harass Philippine vessels and violate the country’s established rights in the West Philippine Sea, and pursue other diplomatic modes that it may deem appropriate and necessary. 

The 2016 award of the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated Beijing’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, including areas that the Philippines refers to as the West Philippine Sea. China does not recognize the decision.

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