House leader wants July 12 declared as ‘National West PH Sea Victory Day’ | Global News
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House leader wants July 12 declared as ‘National West PH Sea Victory Day’

/ 01:02 PM July 12, 2021

The island of Kalayaan, which means “Freedom” in the Filipino language, that was created in 1978 mainly to assert the Philippines’ claim to the disputed territory in the Spratlys, a chain of islets in the West Philippine Sea. (AFP/Kayalaan Municipal office)

MANILA, Philippines — House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City 2nd Dist. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is pushing for the declaration of July 12 of every year as “National West Philippine Sea Victory Day”.

Under House Resolution No. 1945, a copy of which was shared to the media on Monday, the declaration is in commemoration of the Philippines’ triumph before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) upholding the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

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“This declaration will celebrate our government’s July 12, 2016 triumph before the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration, which upheld our country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, much of which our frenemy China is illegally claiming as part of its territory,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd Dist. Representative Rufus Rodriguez. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

In the resolution, Rodriguez said that despite the clear victory of the Philippines, China has refused to acknowledge the ruling and has continued to “harass Filipino fishermen” and has continued to “illegally construct structures on the different islands” in the West Philippine Sea.

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“It is very important to ensure that the country’s landmark victory in The Hague be kept alive in the hearts of our people, despite others believing that it is a hollow victory,” Rodriguez said in the resolution.

“A day marking the country’s landmark victory should be declared in order to constantly remind not only Filipinos, but other nations as well, of the ruling in PCA Case No. 2013-19,” he added.

A similar resolution was earlier filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros in the Senate.

In 2013, the Philippines under the Aquino administration challenged before the Hague court China’s claim that it owned more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, which includes waters in the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

In 2016, two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, the tribunal ruled that China’s claim had no basis in international law and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea, the waters within the country’s 370-km exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) announced on Sunday (April 25) that it has been conducting drills in the West Philippine Sea since last week as part of efforts to secure "our maritime jurisdiction.” PCG

The Philippine Coast Guard  conducts drills in the West Philippine Sea in this photo taken earlier this year. (PCG)

China has consistently refused to acknowledge the 2016 ruling.

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