NEWS | Del Rosario: PH should bring up 2016 WPS ruling at upcoming UN Assembly

By: The News Team

A Philippine Coast Guard ship sails past a Chinese vessel near the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea | Photo from: AFP

Former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert Del Rosario urged the Duterte administration on July 14 to pose the 2016 arbitral ruling at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September.

Del Rosario asserted that the UNGA would be an opportune moment for the Philippines to instigate territorial discussions, since the theme for the upcoming session is “commitment to multilateralism”. Del Rosario added that the move would surely gain multilateral support as it would benefit not only the Philippines but also other claimant states of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Arbitration Ruling

The 2016 international arbitration ruling of The Hague in question favored the Philippines and invalidated China’s massive claims over the WPS. However, China constantly dismissed the ruling over the years.

On July 12, the 4th anniversary of the ruling, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin resumed the country’s call for compliance regarding the issue of historic rights and maritime settlements in the WPS, using the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as basis.

Locsin depicted the awarding of the ruling as a milestone in the corpus of international law. He cited the international body’s authoritative interpretation of key UNCLOS provisions, specifically Article 121(3), which specifies that rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or continental shelf.

“The Tribunal authoritatively ruled that China’s claim of historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law,” Locsin stressed. “Rather, claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are without legal effect.”

China’s defiance and aggression

Despite this, China continues to reject the ruling, tagging it as illegal and invalid. China’s constant rejection of the decision caused a series of WPS spats between China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia in recent years.

Subsequently, manifestations of China’s aggressive behavior were identified by Del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. They stated that China caused several problems in the WPS, such as the building and militarization of artificial islands, and consequently the inauguration of a beaching ramp and a sheltered port at the newly-built island called Pag-asa on June 9 and 12 this year respectively.

Harassment of Filipino Fishermen

Moreover, instances of Chinese harassment to Filipino fishermen were also reported over the years. In 2012, China blocked Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal, which elicited the Philippines’ initial filing of the arbitration complaint. Aside from that, a boat-ramming incident involving a Chinese vessel and a Filipino fishing boat was also reported last year.

Amid the pandemic, Chinese harassment in Philippine waters also continued. In June 2020, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported that 14 went missing as a result of the intense collision between a Filpino fishing boat and a Hong Kong flagged cargo vessel.

Independent Foreign Policy debunked

In light of the numerous counts of Chinese harassment and aggression against Filipino citizens, research institution IBON Foundation debunked the Duterte administration’s portrayal of the Independent Foreign Policy, which originally states that the paramount consideration in state relations shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination. IBON also criticized the regime for prioritizing the revival of Philippine-China relations at the expense of Philippine sovereignty.

“A truly independent foreign policy includes asserting the country’s sovereignty and upholding domestic economic development including the welfare of all Filipinos.” IBON Foundation stressed. “The Duterte administration should stop privileging China in Philippine territory just because it is promising so much financing.”

How did China’s aggression on the territorial dispute affect the West Philippine Sea’s marine ecosystem? Read more through this link: bit.ly/3jtegPQ

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The Official Student Publication of the University of the Philippines Manila.

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The Manila Collegian

The Manila Collegian

The Official Student Publication of the University of the Philippines Manila. Magna est veritas et prevaelebit.

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