De Lima wants July 12 declared as ‘West Philippine Sea Victory Day’
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Leila De Lima has filed a bill seeking to declare July 12 of every year as the “West Philippine Sea Victory Day” to mark the country’s landmark victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) against China.
In filing Senate Bill 2201, De Lima noted that July 12 should be declared a special working holiday to mark the historic decision of the PCA in The Hague, Netherlands.
In July 12, 2016, the PCA released a decision upholding the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea and invalidating China’s expansive claim in the disputed waters.
“[I]t is fitting and compelling that the 12th of July of each year be a Special Working Holiday dedicated to honoring this landmark decision favoring the Philippines, in the hope of instilling national pride among our people and motivating our government to constantly pursue and promote policies and programs consistent with the PCA ruling,” De Lima said.
The Philippines and China have been locked into a maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea for years.
China’s expansive claims covered almost all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, including waters close to the shores of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Amid China’s aggression in the contested waters, the Philippine government under then President Benigno Aquino III filed in 2013 an arbitration case with the PCA, to settle the maritime dispute.
Under SB No. 2201, the Department of Foreign Affairs is tasked to “plan, design and implement activities” for the “West Philippine Sea Victory Day” to ensure the meaningful observance of the holiday.
“The significance of this historic decision shall continue to [r]emind the government to continually uphold our rights in the West Philippine Sea,” said De Lima, who was part of the Philippine delegation who argued the country’s case before the PCA.
At the House of Representatives, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano has earlier filed a similar measure, logged as House Bill No. 8809, which also mandates the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to include the history of the country’s victory in the PCA as part of the curriculum. /muf
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