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House adopts reso condemning China's aggression in WPS

The House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously adopted a resolution condemning China’s "unlawful aggression" in the West Philippine Sea.

House Resolution 1494 also urged the government to assert and protect the Philippines' sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the area as upheld by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

“The Philippines should continue to assert and fight for its rights in the West  Philippine Sea and uphold and implement its hard-earned victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, the Netherlands,” the resolution read.

The July 2016 PCA ruling declared Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank as located within the Philippines' EEZ and junked China’s expansive claim over the South China Sea.

Likewise, the House Resolution also noted that China’s actions against the Philippines' routine and regular rotation and resupply (RORE) missions to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal has become more dangerous due to the following incidents:

  • Using military-grade laser lights at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel last February
  • Using water cannons toward Philippine resupply ships last August and
  • The blocking of a RORE mission which led to a collision between Chinese Coast Guard Ship (CCG) and a contracted Filipino resupply boat last October

“The Philippine government must strengthen its ability to patrol and protect the country's maritime zones by building a self-reliant defense posture program and upgrading the capabilities of the PCG,” the resolution added.

The resolution noted that in order to have a credible defense posture and a capable PCG, the government must pour funding to armed troops and civilian maritime patrol forces.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved, by the House of Representatives, to strongly  condemn  China's  illegal actions  in the West Philippine Sea,and urge the Philippine government to assert and protect the Philippines' sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 Ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration,” it added.

Two weeks ago, China warned countries against drafting a new Code of Conduct in the West Philippine Sea which does not include China. 

That's after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced that Manila has initiated talks with other claimants to formulate a new set of rules in the area due to slow progress in ongoing negotiations between Beijing and a group of Southeast Asian nations on the Code of Conduct. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning warned that "any departure from the DOC framework and its spirit will be null and void."

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is a part of, and China has inked a non-binding Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea or DOC back in 2002. 

The 2002 Asean-China pact provides that parties should "resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea."

Likewise, the 2002 Asean-China pact states that parties should "exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner."

The 2002 Asean-China agreement, however, is non-binding and does not provide sanctions for violators. —VAL, GMA Integrated News