Treaty vs nukes to bolster PH claim in West PH Sea, says Tolentino
MANILA, Philippines — Becoming a state party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will aid in strengthening the Philippines’ claim in the West Philippine Sea, Senator Francis Tolentino said.
During Thursday’s Senate foreign relations committee hearing, Tolentino called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to devise a “mode” to diplomatically assert the country’s position in the West Philippine Sea once the Senate concurs on the ratification of the TPNW and the Philippines becomes a state party.
Under the treaty, a state party “has an obligation to, among others, make a declaration whether there are any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or in any place under its jurisdiction or control that are owned, possessed, or controlled by another State,” the senator noted.
“Because of that arbitral ruling, we still have jurisdiction over [those] areas in the West Philippine Sea being claimed by China. Having said that, it is now apparent that if we approve this treaty, ratify [it], we can send a note to the United Nations informing the UN Secretary-General that we have reasonable grounds to believe that there might be some nuclear armaments there present in the man-made islands made by China,” he said.
“It would strengthen the position of the Philippines because we will now have an oversight on the part of the UN to really look into—whether they can do that or not—to look into the possibility of weapons in an area which is supposedly under our control and our jurisdiction and I’m referring to the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
In July 2016, the Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, which invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line that covers almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
Tolentino believes the Philippines has much to gain from becoming a state party to TPNW as it would “ensure a regime of peace and a nuclear-free region of amity and cooperation.”
Later in the hearing, the committee endorsed to the plenary the concurrence of the Senate to the President’s ratification of the treaty. The instrument of ratification was sent by Malacañang to the Senate on Nov. 18, 2020.
Under the 1987 Constitution, “no treaty of international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”
In 2017, 122 UN member-states, including the Philippines, adopted the said treaty.
Some 45 countries have reportedly ratified the treaty so far, five short of the 50 required for the pact to enter into force.