MANILA - The Philippines should demand damages from China over the destruction of the reefs in Scarborough Shoal, acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said.
The government should file a new case against China for violating its obligation under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to “protect and preserve the marine environment” after fishermen destroyed the reefs in harvesting giant clams, said Carpio.
"The coral reefs are the breeding ground of fish and without them there will be no fish in Scarborough Shoal, which the arbitral tribunal ruled is the traditional fishing ground of Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen," he said in a statement.
Carpio said the Philippines was not awarded damages when it brought China to court over jurisdiction in the South China Sea "because it did not ask for damages."
"This time the Philippines should demand damages for the economic losses of Filipino fishermen," he said.
"We can also ask damages for the action of China in preventing our fishermen from fishing inside the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal in violation of the 12 July 2016 arbitral ruling," he added.
Carpio was part of the team that argued for the Philippines' ownership of the areas before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands.
The court in 2016 rejected Beijing's historic claims to most of the South China Sea, but the economic giant has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the ruling.
In his statement, Carpio said the tribunal decided that China "violated its obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment" when it did not prevent Chinese fishermen from harvesting giants clams and destroying the coral reefs in the process.
President Rodrigo Duterte has set the decision aside as he distanced Manila from its traditional ally, the United States, and embraced China, seeking financial and military aid.