Lacson files reso condemning China’s ‘hostile acts’ in PH EEZ
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson has filed a resolution condemning China’s continued presence and “hostile acts” in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In filing Senate Resolution No. 954, Lacson, who recently visited Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan, Palawan in the West Philippines Sea, urged the government to consistently invoke and protect the country’s rights in the area.
“Be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved by the Senate, to condemn the continued presence and hostile acts of Chinese Maritime Vessels within our EEZ and urge the government to fortify, amplify and enhance our positions in the West Philippine Sea thru defense and security agreements with other nations, and by consistently invoking and protecting our internationally recognized rights through continuing diplomatic dialogue with nations of mutual/common interests in the West Philippine Sea,” read Lacson’s resolution, which was filed on Thursday.
He also called for a comprehensive development plan that includes concrete projects to improve the quality of life and to ensure the efficient delivery of public services in Pag-asa Island.
“Resolved further, that in pursuit of sending a stronger message of assertion that Pag-Asa Island is ours, a comprehensive Development Plan must be crafted laying-out concrete projects, programs and activities aimed at improving the quality of life and efficient delivery of public services therein,” the resolution added.
Lacson, in his resolution, noted that while Pag-asa Island is considered a municipality in Palawan by virtue of Presidential Decree 1596 dated June 11, 1978, it continues to be “surrounded by Chinese maritime vessels” despite repeated diplomatic protests filed by the Philippines.
He also pointed out that China seized Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in 1995 and turned it into a 550-hectare air and naval outpost that can deploy military assets and conduct surveillance over the West Philippine Sea.
In 2012, China also disregarded an agreement brokered by the United States to end the standoff in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal by not withdrawing from the area, and instead, constructed chain barriers to prevent access by the Philippines.
China also refused to accept the Philippines’ arbitral victory in 2016 invalidating Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
More recently, Chinese Coast Guard vessels “blocked and water cannoned” two Philippine supply boats en route to Ayungin Shoal, which is well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile EEZ.
Lacson warned that these continuing Chinese actions may “constitute clear and present danger not only to our national interest and territorial integrity but also to the peace and stability of the entire Asia Pacific Region” if they remain unchecked and unchallenged.
The senator noted that Philippine officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte, have condemned the Nov. 16 incident in Ayungin Shoal.
Still, China insists that Ayungin Shoal, which it calls Ren’ai Jiao, is within its territory. It also demanded the removal of BRP Sierra Madre, which serves as a garrison for Filipino troops, from the shoal.
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