Hontiveros asks executive branch to 'exert legal, diplomatic pressure' vs China over marine damage

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 27 2020 07:55 PM

MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed a resolution urging the executive department to "exert legal and diplomatic pressure" against the Chinese government to compel Asia's largest economy to pay for the damages it caused in the West Philippine Sea.

China's "unlawful" reclamation and fishing activities in the West Philippine Sea have cost the Philippines at least PhP33 billion worth of damaged marine resources annually, Hontiveros said in her Senate Resolution 369.

"China’s sense of entitlement to our seas has caused severe and irreparable harm to our ecosystems. Hindi tayo kolonya, kaya panahon nang singilin ng gobyerno ang Tsina," she said in a statement.

(We are not their colony so it's time we ask the Chinese government to pay.)

"I urge the government to put Filipinos’ interest first. Mga Pilipino muna, bago ang feelings ng China (Filipinos first before the feelings of China," she said.

China owes the Philippines some P200 billion, if the cost of damage would be based on a University of the Philippines' Marine Science Institute's computation since 2012, the senator said.

"If China pays the reparations owed to us, we can further improve our COVID-19 response and help more Filipinos against the disease," she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte forged closer ties with Beijing as he lashed at Washington after former US President Barrack Obama criticized his bloody war on drugs.

Last year, a Chinese vessel abandoned Filipino fishermen who were thrown at see after hitting their boat.

A 2016 arbitration ruling on the South China Sea reprimanded China for driving away Filipino fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds in the disputed waters, and for causing marine environmental damage there as a result of its artificial island-building activities.

China continues to disregard the landmark award that also declared the historical basis of its sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea as having no legal basis, and clarified the Philippines' maritime entitlements in some of the disputed features.