Make China pay for reef damage? Locsin says he’ll ‘give it some thought’
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Monday said he would give some thought to the possibility of making China pay reparations for billions of pesos’ worth of damages sustained by the Philippine reef ecosystem in the West Philippine Sea due to Chinese reclamation activities.
“I’ve never thought of that issue yet so I have to think about that. Any damage? Well, I’d give it some thought,” Locsin said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel when sought for a comment on the matter.
Asked if seeking reparation from China would be a “legitimate” option should damage be proven, he said: “Yes, that’s an option, we’ll bring it to the international forum.”
Earlier, Senator Risa Hontiveros and Locsin’s predecessor, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, said China should be made to pay for the country’s losses due to the damage it inflicted on Philippine reefs.
In April, Hontiveros filed a Senate resolution urging the Duterte administration to “exert legal and diplomatic pressure” upon China to end its activities in the West Philippine Sea and to pay compensation to the country for the damaged reefs.
“I guess that’s their point of view, that doesn’t mean they’re always right… I think maybe I’ll ask them to propose to me what we should do. But if it’s just to provoke China, (then) no,” Manila’s top diplomat said.
Del Rosario earlier 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.
“China inflicted the most massive, near-permanent and devastating destruction of the marine wealth belonging to Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea,” Del Rosario said in an online forum last June 8, 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 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.
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