PH should demand damages from China for destroying corals — Carpio
The Philippines should demand damages from China for the destruction of coral reefs in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said on Tuesday as the country commemorates Independence Day.
“The Philippines should file a new case against China for violating China’s obligation under United Nation Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) to ‘protect and preserve the marine environment,’” Carpio said in a statement.
In a GMA News report, Filipino fishermen said their Chinese counterparts were taking giant clams and have destroyed the coral reefs in Panatag Shoal.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon confirmed that Chinese fishermen were behind the destruction of the coral reefs.
According to Carpio, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China violated its obligation to preserve the marine environment when it did not prevent Chinese fishermen from harvesting giant clams.
“The Philippines was not awarded damages because it did not ask for damages. This time the Philippines should demand damages for the economic losses of Filipino fishermen,” the magistrate said.
“We can also ask damages for the action of China in preventing our fishermen from fishing inside the lagoon of the Scarborough Shoal in violation of the 13 July 2016 arbitral ruling,” he added.
Common fishing ground
Carpio, an advocate of the country’s maritime sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, stressed that only Filipinos can catch fish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an area within the 200 nautical miles from the country’s coastline.
“There is freedom of navigation for fishing vessels of all countries in the EEZ of the Philippines in the West Philippines Sea. The same rule applies to the EEZ of China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei in the South China Sea,” he said.
“However, only fishermen of the adjacent coastal state can fish in their country’s EEZ,” he added.
Carpio said Panatag Shoal was the only common fishing ground for Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen as specified by the arbitral tribunal. /ee