MANILA -- The Philippine government should lodge complaints in all available platforms against China to focus international attention on its incursions in contested waters, a political risk analyst said Sunday.
Filipino fishermen and former officials last week filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court, accusing Chinese President Xi Jinping of crimes against humanity in connection with Beijing's "systematic plan to control the South China Sea."
The move is a "good first phase to defend the Philippines from China's siege of the West Philippine Sea," said Anders Corr, whose analytics firm publishes the Journal of Political Risk.
The complaint, he said, increases public awareness of the problem and focuses international attention on China's "theft of natural resources."
"We need more such cases in every venue possible. We should be litigating against China and what it's trying to do," Corr told ANC.
"Bringing these lawsuits have more than legal impact. It has a public relations impact. It brings the attention of the Philippine community and also the world community to bear on China. It takes China to the court of public opinion," he added.
Among legal venues where the Philippines can take China are the United Nations General Assembly and the body's Human Rights Commission, he said.
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Manila and its longtime ally Washington should also increase naval forces in the West Philippine Sea to support a UN-backed arbitral tribunal's decision to invalidate Beijing's sweeping claims over the strategic waterway.
"You can have international law in your favor but if you don't have the force to back it up then the Chinese will just ignore it," he said.
The Philippines and China have long sparred over the South China Sea, but relations improved considerably under President Rodrigo Duterte, who set aside the 2016 landmark legal victory for enhanced ties.
Corr, however, warned that the Philippine is "very likely" to lose natural resources if it fails to pay back China for loans.
Deals between the 2 states, he said, should be examined by the Philippine Congress.
"They shouldn't just be taken lightly. These will be putting the children of the Philippines for generations into a debt trap that they will probably not be able to get out of... Beijing will have them in virtual debt servitude for decades or even a century," he warned.