Hontiveros, fishers' group ask Bongbong Marcos to ‘use influence’ with China to protect PH interests | Global News
On anniversary of Hague ruling

Hontiveros, fishers’ group ask Bongbong Marcos to ‘use influence’ with China to protect PH interests

/ 12:01 PM July 12, 2022
Pag-asa Island, part of the Kalayaan municipality in the West Philippine Sea

RAISE THE FLAG Members of the Philippine Navy plant the Philippine flag on one of four sandbars rising from the sea within the territorial waters of Pag-asa Island, part of the Kalayaan municipality in the West Philippine Sea. China claims the sandbars, sending its coast guard to keep Filipinos away from the emerging islands. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros called on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to use his “newfound influence” with China to protect the Philippines’ interests, particularly in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Hontiveros made the call Tuesday on the sixth anniversary of the decision of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that favored Philippines’ diplomatic protest against China’s sweeping claims in the WPS.


“On the sixth anniversary of the Hague Tribunal’s Ruling on the West Philippine Sea, I am calling on the Marcos administration to use its newfound influence with China to protect our interests,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“This is a chance for the leadership to take a sharper position compared to its predecessor,” the senator added.


Hontiveros expressed hopes that the “new special friendship” between the Philippines and China under the Marcos administration “puts Filipinos first, unlike the previous administration,” saying that “no amount of diplomatic relations should ever imperil our sovereignty.”

“However, to this day, China has barely built any sort of foundation for good will, trust, or respect because of its refusal to accept the court’s authority regarding the WPS,” Hontiveros said.

“Despite tremendous international pressure, they have not heeded the order cited in the Hague Ruling, and have, in fact, increased their violent and illegal presence in Philippine waters,” she further said.

The senator said that any discussion of “shared prosperity,” which will be developed using Philippine resources, must yield to international law and our the Philippine Constitution.


“Promoters of illegal activities, such as the militarization of Philippine territory, must be held to account. China’s naval exercises have led to the outright bullying of Filipino fisherfolk and the loss of their livelihood,” Hontiveros said.

“China’s unlawful and aggressive incursions must also stop, especially their addition of artificial islands in disputed waters. Mr. President, it is your duty to prohibit these operations,” she added.

In 2013, the Philippines, under the Aquino administration, challenged in 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 then 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.

READ: Duterte on PH court win over China: ‘That’s just paper; I’ll throw that in the wastebasket’

China, however, has refused to acknowledge the ruling. Marcos has said in the past that he will uphold The Hague’s ruling, but also said that he does not want the relationship of the Philippines and China to be limited to the maritime dispute.


“While overlapping exclusive economic zones at the WPS have been a perpetual issue in our region, this should never be a reason to let the trail run cold,” Hontiveros said.

“Even now, the landmark case victory from the Hague Ruling not only bolsters our case against China, it energizes all citizens to fight for our sovereignty. Let us do right by our fellow Filipinos and show them why bullies never, ever, win,” she added.

China ‘guilty of plunder’

Meanwhile, an alliance of fisherfolk made the same appeal to Marcos, adding that China is guilty of plundering the country’s marine environment and violating the country’s fishing rights.

“Six years after our landmark victory, China won’t stop violating our fishing and sovereign rights in our traditional fishing grounds. Not less than 600,000 fisherfolks and fish workers are directly affected by Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea,” Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya (Pamalakaya) spokesperson Ronnel Arambulo said during a protest.

“China is both guilty of plundering the marine environment through its large-scale reclamation and poaching activities, and violating the fishing rights of Filipino fishers in our exclusive economic zone,” it added.

Photo courtesy of Pamalakaya

Photo courtesy of Pamalakaya

Pamalakaya called on the government to uphold the Hague ruling during a fluvial parade of 30 fishing boats in Laguna de Bay in observance of the sixth anniversary of the Philippine victory over China’s claims in the WPS.

“Marcos Jr. should know that asserting our sovereignty to China is more favorable to the country than relying on its assistance. For starters, the Marcos administration could compel China to pay remuneration for the damaged reefs caused by its aggression and plunder, as well as make them pay back rent for the years of illegal occupation of sea features in our territory,” Arambulo said.

READ: Bongbong Marcos urged: ‘Do something’ to secure fishing rights in Panatag Shoal

Earlier, Pamalakaya also urged Marcos to address Chinese incursions in the WPS, saying the government should “strongly assert sovereign rights” by using the arbitral rule in order to put a stop to its continuous aggression in the WPS.

But according to Pamalakaya, it will take a strong political will from the new government to stand up for the country’s territorial rights.– Nicole Faye Agcaoili, INQUIRER.net intern


Marcos to assert Hague ruling

Bongbong Marcos wants PH-China ties to go beyond West PH Sea disputes

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TAGS: China, Pamalakaya, Risa Hontiveros, The Hague ruling, West Philippine Sea
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