PH urged to ask int’l court to stop China’s construction work in disputed waters
The Philippine government should ask the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration to issue a provisional measure ordering China to stop the ongoing construction activities at the West Philippine Sea, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday.
China has created about 2,000 acres of reclaimed land on seven reefs—Subi Reef, Gaven Reef, Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Chigua Reef and Calderon Reef. Reports say that from reclamation, China has transitioned to infrastructure development, insisting that the activities were being done on islands it claimed it owns.
Carpio said China’s activities have destroyed the reefs in less than two months.
“Seventy percent of fish in the Philippines are spawned here…Carried by the tides to Palawan and even Vietnam. So, this is our food source and China doesn’t care,” Carpio said during a forum entitled “Towards Common Actions on Maritime Commons—Safeguarding Maritime Security in Asia Through Regional Cooperation in Ortigas.
“The Philippines can ask the Tribunal to issue a provisional measure directing China to stop its reclamation to prevent serious harm to the marine environment…Even if China ignores it, the world will know China is defying an international order,” he added.
Carpio said only the Philippines can put up structures and artificial islands at Subi Reef.
Under Article 60 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in an exclusive economic Zone, “the Coastal State shall have the exclusive right to construct and to authorize and regulate the construction, operation and use of artifical islands and installations for economic purposes and installations which may interfere with the exercise of the rights of the coastal State.”
Carpio said China can justify its actions under Article 87 about Freedom of the high seas. “But this only applies to international seas beyond EEZs,” he added.
Next month, there will be an oral argument on the issue raised by China that the Permanent Arbitration Court has no jurisdiction to act on the Philippine government’s complaint against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. AU
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