Senators seek probe, protest vs China ships’ dumping of human waste in WPS
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators have called on the government to probe reports that Chinese vessels anchored in parts of the West Philippine Sea are dumping human waste and sewage in the area, with one seeking the filing of a diplomatic protest on the matter.
“DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) should investigate this, and if there is basis, file charges in court. Government cannot fine sidewalk litterers while turning a blind eye to this,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said in a statement Tuesday.
Recto pointed out that ships are prohibited under domestic and international laws from “dumping its refuse and trash into our oceans.”
“Under Philippine laws, such are environmental crimes that carry a jail term and a hefty fine,” he added.
“But even without these laws, decent human behavior commands civilized men not to turn rich fishing grounds into a cesspool of feces,” the senator further said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, Recto added, should also study the filing of a diplomatic protest on the matter.
“It is not only reclaiming land in the West Philippine Sea; by its actions, it is also renaming it as the Waste Philippine Sea,” Recto said.
“By turning reefs into toilets, two man-made things are now visible from space: the Great Wall of China on land, and the Great Wastes of China at sea,” he added.
Senator Francis Tolentino likewise suggested that the DENR immediately conduct its investigation “to determine the accuracy of the reports.”
“Thereafter, if it is determined that state actors or state-sponsored activities were involved, the Department of Foreign Affairs should take the appropriate action by invoking the Convention on Biological Diversity, as the anthropogenic pressures on the area will impact on the coral reefs and other vulnerable ecosystems which the international community aims to protect,” he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also stressed the need for the government to confirm the reported dumping of waste in parts of the West Philippine Sea.
“[D]apat makumpirma iyan ng sarili nating gobyerno para may sarili din tayong datos sa kung ano na nga ba ang patuloy na sinisira ng Tsina sa ating karagatan. Kalakip dito, dapat patuloy din ang ating panawagang paalisin na ng Tsina ang kanilang mga barko,” she said in a statement.
(Our own government should confirm this so that we can have data on what China continues to destroy in our seas. In addition to this, we should continue our calls for China to remove its vessels in the area.)
She said that the DENR has yet to release a baseline report regarding the country’s loss due to the destruction of natural resources in the West Philippines Sea.
“Mas mainam kung ang DENR mismo may opisyal na report na nagkukwenta kung ano na nga ba ang dapat bayarang danyos ng Tsina. Ito ang pwedeng magsilbing pamantayan ng ating pagsingil sa patuloy na pagmamalabis ng Tsina,” she added.
(It’s better for the DENR to have an official report that would compute how much China owes us. This can serve as our basis in asking China for reparation for their incursions.)
For his part, Senator Francis Pangilinan demanded that China stop its reported waste-dumping activities in the area and leave.
“Hindi na nga sa inyo, sisirain niyo pa. Umalis kayo riyan,” he said.
(It’s not yours to begin with yet you’re destroying it. Leave.)
“Tapunan ng basura ang trato sa ating bansa. Ganito ang isinusukli ng China sa mga sunud-sunuran, tikom ang bibig, at kaduwagan,” he added.
(China is now treating us as a trashcan. This is how China rewards cowardice and subservience.)
Pangilinan said the government must assert its rights over the said waters and protect Filipino fishermen’s freedom to earn a living there.
Senator Grace Poe also condemned the Chinese vessels’ dumping human waste and sewage in the West Philippine Sea.
She said this should serve as a “wake up” call to the administration of the “stinking reality” that China “gives no respect to international law, whether it be our territorial or environmental rights.”
Earlier, US geospatial firm Simularity reported that Chinese ships anchored in parts of the West Philippines Sea are dumping “raw sewage, every day onto the reefs they are occupying.”
“When the ships don’t move, the poop piles up,” Liz Derr, co-founder and CEO of Simularity, said during Monday’s forum hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute on the fifth anniversary of the Philippines’ 2016 victory against China.
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