PH must educate citizens on West PH Sea arbitral victory: group

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 27 2021 10:43 AM | Updated as of Jun 27 2021 11:09 AM

PH must educate citizens on West PH Sea arbitral victory: group 1
Philippine Coast Guard personnel are seen onboard rubber boats as they sail near Chinese vessels believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea in this handout photo distributed by the PCG on April 15 and taken according to the source either on April 13 or 14, 2021. Philippine Coast Guard/Reuters/file

MANILA - Government should educate its citizens on the country's arbitral victory against China on the South China Sea and internationalize the development, a multi-sectoral group said Sunday.

The Citizens Alliance for Life and the Law (CALL) of the Sea has petitioned the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to include in the high school and college curriculum the 2016 arbitral award that invalidates China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea, said Greg Atienza, executive director of Soul Philippines.

"Mahabang laban ito. The curriculum of our education should include these rights. Kung di natin alam ang karapatan natin, ano ang pinaglalaban natin?" he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(This is a long fight... If we don't know our rights, then what are we fighting for?)

The world will mark on July 12 the fifth anniversary of the landmark award, which President Rodrigo Duterte shelved in favor of economic benefits from China. It is regarded as among the important legacies of former President Benigno Aquino III, who passed away last Thursday.

Atienza said lawmakers are also urged to pass the necessary legislation to globalize the exploration and development of the West Philippine Sea, the portion of the South China Sea over which the Philippines has sovereign rights.

"So that we can have as many multilateral participation in the West Philippine Sea as one means by which there will be more stability. For example, padamihin ang Malampaya (sign more projects like the Malampaya)," he said.

The Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy are also enjoined to accompany fisherfolks so that they don't get chased away by Chinese vessels, he added.

The group was formed on June 22, two days before the death of Aquino, whose administration brought China to the arbitral tribunal.

Atienza said that on July 12, some 50 groups will gather online to start their "education campaign for the general citizenry."

The aim is to expand the "unified action to defend the West Philippine Sea", to include forming alliance with international counterparts "for the enforcement of the award."

Rico Domingo of the Philippine Bar Association (PBA), in a separate interview Sunday also on TeleRadyo, said that while there is no precedent as regards the enforcement of the arbitral ruling, a case by Nicaragua against the US in the 1980s can serve as a model.

A unit in the PBA is studying this as they plan to draft a blueprint for the enforcement and submit it to the next administration for its consideration.

"Sabi namin, kaya ng Pilipino na panindigan 'to at gumawa ng malalim na pagsasaliksik para makaroon ng blueprint para sa ating bansa para sa kinabukasan ng ating generation," Domingo said.

(We've said that the Filipinos can take a stand on this and do an intensive research to have a blueprint for our country, for the future generation.)

He lamented that many do not realize the imminence of China's threat to the country, putting Palawan at risk of becoming a territory already of China.

"Dapat pangalagaan natin 'yan at maging vigilant tayo, at ating i-address 'yan as soon as possible. We cannot wait any longer. We have to address this as soon as possible," he said.

(We should take care of it. We should be vigilant. We should address that as soon as possible.)

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