Proposal to seize China’s assets ‘provocative,’ needs study – Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — The legality of seizing China’s assets in the Philippines as payment for the reef damage it caused in the West Philippine Sea would need to be studied further, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros, who described the proposal as a “provocative” move.
“Anything is possible. There was a whole spectrum of proposals that came out yesterday and that one was on the spectrum end of hard diplomacy, very provocative,” Hontiveros said in an interview ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday, referring to the idea broached by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario during an online forum she recently organized.
“That is something we should study,” she added.
During the forum, Del Rosario said Philippine authorities “have the right to seize” assets and properties owned by China in the Philippines as payment for the damage it caused to Philippine reef ecosystems, which amounts to over P200 billion.
But for the meantime, Hontiveros proposed implementing other measures to protest Chinese incursions into Philippine territory while “those that are on the hard diplomacy (and) those that are on the state diplomacy, especially now that the government is still not thinking of taking such states vis à vis China,” are being studied.
“It’s one thing to demand payment from them, it’s another that they actually pay up. [But] in the meantime, in order to further express our opposition to the damages they are creating to our environment, to our fisherfolk, and to our national sovereignty, there are concrete steps we can continue to take,” she said.
Among these measures include the filing of a Senate resolution urging the Department of Education to include marine history as well as the Philippines’ narrative of the West Philippine Sea.
She also suggested allocating funds for programs like “Bantay Dagat” for Filipino fisherfolk.
“Because they are willing and they could be capacitated to actually give the immediate intelligence reports to our Philippine navy and coastguard whenever there are Chinese incursions into parts of Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea,” the lawmaker said.
Hontiveros further underscored the importance of forging “people-to-people unity” with other claimant countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Aside from the Philippines and China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei also have conflicting claims over the South China Sea.
Manila and Beijing have long been locked in a maritime dispute and in 2013, the Philippines filed a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in The Netherlands challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea.
The Hague-based court then ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 invalidating China’s nine-dash line.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for setting aside the landmark 2016 arbitral ruling against Beijing’s mythical nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.
China refused to recognize the ruling, continuing its aggression in the disputed waters and building artificial islands to house military facilities.
The President avoided directly confronting Beijing over the maritime dispute in exchange for investments and loans.