Philippines mulls fresh complaint vs China before Hague-based tribunal

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2023 05:54 PM

AFP handout
AFP handout

MANILA — The Philippine government may again file a complaint against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration due to alleged violations of environmental laws in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said legal experts from the Office of the Solicitor General and his agency would discuss next week the possible complaints in relation to the violations of environmental laws supposedly committed by China. 

“It can be the arbitral court again, it is possible that we will file it before the arbitral court,” Remulla said.

Remulla said he was also communicating with Filipino environmental experts such as lawyer Antonio Oposa, who would assist the Philippine government in drafting the complaint.

“Whether or not it is our territory but it is within our vicinity already gives us a moral responsibility to pursue the destruction of the environment as a task for humanity, for the good of the humanity,” Remulla said.

The DOJ chief, however, refused to comment directly on the recent statement of Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning who said that accusations of the Philippine government lacked factual basis. 

The Chinese official said the Philippines should stop creating political drama and instead remove the grounded BRP Sierra Madre if it truly cared for the environment.

“I will have no comment about the spokesperson saying anything, what I am saying is we are moving here as Department of Justice of the Republic of the Philippines,” Remulla said.

The Philippine military and coast guard have alleged that the Chinese maritime militia harvested and later dumped "processed" coral reefs in some parts of the West Philippine Sea. 

Dr. Deo Onda, a scientist from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute, earlier estimated that the Philippines was losing around P33.1 billion annually from the damaged reef ecosystems in Panatag Shoal and Spratly Islands due to China’s reclamation activities. 
Onda explained that the amount was determined using a baseline value of $353,429 or P18 million per hectare per year for coral reefs based on a study conducted by Elvesier, a Dutch company specializing in scientific, technical, and medical information and analytics.

US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson has described the destruction as "troubling." 

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