Locsin says arbitral award on South China Sea is ‘final’ ; urges nations to follow rule of law

Marje Pelayo   •   June 23, 2021   •   317

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. on Wednesday (June 23) maintained that the arbitral award that clarified the Philippines’ maritime rights in the South China Sea is final.

“The award is final. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history and our collective memories,” Locsin said.

Locsin issued a statement coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Philippines’ victory in the arbitration case.

“The award conclusively settled the status of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea,” he said.

“In summary, the award gives littoral states guideposts on how much waters their features — be they islands or rocks — can generate, where their fishermen can fish, where they can exercise law enforcement patrols, where they can send their ships without permission from the nearest state, without creating a cause of action or a casus belli (Latin term for an act used to justify a war) between them,” he added.

China claims ownership of almost the entire South China Sea on the basis of a nine-dash line.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12, 2016 debunked this claim ruling in favor of the lawsuit filed by the Philippines.

China, however, maintains it does not recognize the ruling even if tensions escalate also with other claimant countries in the area.

Through the end of Locsin’s statement, the official urges other countries to follow the rule of law.

“The present that we need and the future that we want is a peaceful South China Sea. The Philippines is committed to this for as long as it exists. For as long as nations abide by the rule of law and not of military might, the Award is the North Star that will keep us on course in the present, and that will point us back to the right direction in the future should we, in a moment of weakness or inaction, lose our way,” the Foreaign Affairs chief said.

DND verifying report on alleged presence of a Chinese ship off Zambales

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday said it is verifying reports on the alleged presence of a Chinese research ship that was spotted near Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said facts gathered by the maritime patrols in the area will be basis of their next course of action.

“Rest assured that the AFP, through the Northern Luzon Command, undertakes regular domain awareness operations and provides all the necessary support to the Philippine Coast Guard and other agencies to secure and implement our laws in our territorial waters and the EEZ,” he said.

Chinese and other foreign vessels have previously been spotted in contested areas in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests on the presence of Chinese ships in Philippine waters.

 

Coalition calls for strong enforcement of 2016 arbitral ruling anew

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups have called anew for the strong enforcement of the 2016 arbitral ruling.

The group Citizens Alliance for Life and the Law of the Sea (CALL of the Sea) called on the Duterte Administration to strongly implement the arbitral ruling regarding the West Philippine Sea. The 2016 arbitral ruling affirmed the Philippines’ territorial claims in the South China Sea against China’s claims.

“What we must now need, moving forward is for us Filipinos and national leaders to speak as one with a clear unmistakable, consistent and emphatic voice on the enforcement of the arbitral award,” according to Atty. Joey Lina, convener of CALL of the Sea.

According to 1Sambayan led by its convener, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, only Filipinos have the right to the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“The constitution expressly declares the stay, the use of reserves and enjoyment of the nations marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone solely to Filipino citizens, clearly the president has no power to allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea,

Former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Dr. Albert Del Rosario also said that President Rodrigo Duterte betrayed the constitution due to his previous statements regarding the West Philippine Sea.

“Last May 10, 2021, the President claimed his pledge to will ride a jet ski to the Spratlys, plant the Philippine flag there was a pure campaign joke. calling those who believed him as being stupid. This episode contributes to a widening belief among our countrymen that President Duterte betrayed the constitution he swore to uphold, and consequently betrayed his countrymen who rely on him to protect the West Philippine sea,” he said.

Meanwhile, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government is not giving up any natural resources in the country’s EEZ.

“We should also propagate an objective understanding of issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea to avoid being clouded by pure emotions which are being exploited by those who seek to divide rather than to unite us in our common goal. On the economic implications of the issue, we need to consistently acknowledge that the natural resources within our EEZ are for our exclusive exploitation,” he said. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Palace tells Filipino fishermen to stay in WPS despite China’s fishing ban

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday urged Filipino fishermen to stay in the Philippines’ traditional fishing grounds despite China’s imposition of fishing moratorium in the South China Sea.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured that Filipino fishermen would be protected against possible aggressions so they should not leave the contested waters.

He also said that the law of other countries has no “extra territorial application,” which means that it has no effect in Philippine territory.

“Wala pong extra territorial application ang mga batas ng mga dayuhang bansa, so diyan lang po kayo sa ating mga traditional fishing grounds,” he said, addressing Filipino fisherfolk.

“Nandiyan naman po ang ating mga coast guard upang pangalagaan din po ang interes ng ating mga mangingisda,” he added.

Roque made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said it has fired a diplomatic protest against China’s fishing ban.

The DFA said the Philippines does not recognize China’s unilateral imposition of a fishing ban in the area, which runs from May 1 to August 16, 2021.

The ban covers ‘waters north of 12 degrees north latitude’ in the South China Sea,’ which includes over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, the agency added.

“China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond it’s legitimate maritime entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and is without basis under international law,” the DFA said.

“China cannot legally impose nor legally enforce such a moratorium in the West Philippine Sea,” it stressed.

The DFA urged China to “desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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