Del Rosario says PH can seize China’s assets over damaged reefs
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government can seize assets and properties of China in the country as payment for the damage it caused to Philippine reef ecosystems, which amounts to over P200 billion, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.
During an online forum on Monday, Del Rosario said the Philippine government “needs to stand up for our legitimate rights.”
“China inflicted the most massive, near-permanent and devastating destruction of the marine wealth belonging to Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea,” he said, citing “unanimous” findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016.
“In other words, China is enormously accountable and owes Filipinos billions of pesos for its continuing abuses in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
Del Rosario further cited a study by the UP Marine Science Institute, which estimated that the Philippines is losing at least P33 billion annually from damaged reef ecosystems due to China’s artificial islands and illegal fishing operations.
“This sums up to more than P231 billion since the start of 2014. China refuses to pay its debt to the Filipino people. How will we make China pay? It is time for Filipinos to unite and demand what is due from China. Philippine authorities have the right to seize assets and properties owned by the Chinese state here in the Philippines to satisfy China’s debt to the Filipino people,” Del Rosario stressed.
“In these possible assets are the Chinese government’s interest in the National Grid (Corporation) of the Philippine (NGCP) and China Telecom as the third telco in our country. China can be held accountable here in our country,” he added.
Earlier, fears that China could remotely access the country’s power grid surfaced amid the fact that the NGCP is 40 percent owned by the State Grid Corporation of China.
NGCP, however, assured that there is “no proverbial red button” that could shut off the country’s power grid, adding that there are existing protocols to prevent “unsupervised remote access.”
Meanwhile, the government awarded Dito Telecommunity, which is backed by China Telecom and the group of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, the permit to operate as the third telecommunications player in the country.
“It is also time for us to protect ourselves from China’s continuing predatory and abusive practices,” Del Rosario went on.
He also cited actions made by other countries against allowing China from “taking over” vital industries.
“Other countries such as Australia, Japan, India, the US and the European Union have recently enacted measures to prevent China from taking over their strategic and vital industries like energy, technology, media telecommunications after economic contraction brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Last April, Senator Risa Hontiveros moved to make China pay for the country’s losses due to the damage it inflicted on Philippine reefs.
But it was met with condemnation from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
“Of course I was very disappointed with that dismissive almost non-response of the Chinese Embassy here in the Philippines, Though I wasn’t completely surprised,” Hontiveros said during the forum.
“So now it remains up to the Philippine government to assert that it is indeed a very reasonable and legitimate claim,” she added.
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