Make China pay for sea damage? DFA chief to 'give it some thought'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 22 2020 12:19 PM | Updated as of Jun 22 2020 05:59 PM

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Monday he would give "some thought" to a proposal to demand billions of pesos in damages from China for its destruction of reefs in the West Philippine Sea. 

Beijing should pay at least P200 billion for the environmental damage it wrought in the last 7 years, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros said in an online protest this month. 

The amount is based on a University of the Philippines study which showed that Beijing's reclamation in the Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands amounted to P33.1 billion in annual losses.

"I'd give it some thought," Locsin said of the proposal.

"That's their point of view, that doesn't mean they're always right and there are international forums for that purpose. I think maybe I'll ask them to propose to me what we should do. But if it's just to provoke China... no," he said. 

The damages "could go to government's efforts in fighting the [coronavirus] pandemic, said Hontiveros. 

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said Manila could "seize" China's assets in the Philippines as payment for the damaged reefs.

"Philippine authorities have the right to seize assets and properties owned by Chinese state in the Philippines to satisfy China's debt to the Filipino people once China's full monetary damages are determined," said Del Rosario, who led a team that brought China before an arbitration court in 2013. 

The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 junked China's sweeping claims to the waterway, where $3 trillion in ship-borne trade pass through it every year. Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling. 

ANC, June 22, 2020