MANILA - Several senators on Monday filed a resolution condemning "the illegal activities of the People’s Republic of China in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and other parts of the West Philippine Sea."
Senate Resolution No. 708 was filed weeks after hundreds of Chinese ships were seen moored near the Julian Felipe Reef off the coast of Palawan, and after China's missile-bearing vessels chased a Filipino fishing boat in Philippine waters.
"China should not be allowed to rewrite or nullify the UNCLOS," the resolution read, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that governs how countries use the ocean and its resources.
"Such blatant disregard of established international law not only has serious ramifications on a rules-based international order but likewise deprives Filipino fishermen of livelihood," it said.
China continues to claim almost the entire South China Sea, of which the West Philippine Sea is a part, despite having no legal basis, as adjudged by a UN-backed arbitration court in 2016.
China's illegal construction of militarized islets in the West Philippine Sea "causes irreparable damage to the marine environment due to pollution and destruction of coral reefs," the lawmakers said.
The senators who signed the resolution are:
- Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto
- Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
- Sen. Nancy Binay
- Sen. Leila de Lima
- Sen. Richard Gordon
- Sen. Risa Hontiveros
- Sen. Lito Lapid
- Sen. Kiko Pangilinan
- Sen. Grace Poe
- Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.
- Sen. Joel Villanueva
President Rodrigo Duterte, who forged friendlier relations with China upon assuming power in 2016, has temporarily set aside the arbitration award in favor of economic aid and investments.
"Neither close diplomatic and political ties nor promise of donations, aids or loans, whether they actually materialize or not, should not be mistaken as acceptance of China's creeping hegemony over our region and country," the senators said.
"No promise of economic largesse often undelivered should soften out resolve against these illegal and unwarranted incursions," they added.