Hontiveros wants PH to raise before UN China’s harassment of Filipino fishers
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution asking the Philippine government to raise China’s continuous harassment of Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
In Hontiveros’ Senate Resolution No. 659 filed on Monday, the government, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs, was urged to sponsor a resolution at the UNGA to call on China to stop harassing Filipino fisherfolk.
“As far back as 2016, through the landmark Arbitral ruling, it has been established that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights over Filipino resources. It has also been proven that China breached its obligations under international law when it violated our sovereign rights over our continental shelf and exclusive economic zone,” she said in a statement.
“This is a clear and unequivocal decision. The Hague Ruling will never be diminished by China’s antagonistic and perpetual non-compliance,” she added.
In her resolution, Hontiveros three particular incidents where China harassed Filipinos — including the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) itself — over the WPS:
- Philippines’ appeal to China, voiced by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza, after the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) used a military-grade laser against PCG which temporarily blinded the latter (February 2023)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Charlton Sean Gaerlan’s confirmation that troops in the Kalayaan Island Group, which is well within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), are continuously under the harassment of Chinese forces in the area (May 2023)
- Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources chief information officer Nazario Briguera announcing the launch of the Livelihood Activities to Enhance Fisheries Yield and Economic Gains from the West Philippine Sea (Layag WPS) project, which is meant to aid fisherfolk being harassed by Chinese vessels (June 2023)
Hontiveros said that a UNGA Resolution may not be legally binding, but it still carries a “significant political weight.”
“[…] A UN General Assembly Resolution, while not legally binding, carry significant political weight and serve as expressions of the will and consensus of the international community, with the potential to shape international norms, influence national policies, and provide guidance for the work of other UN organs, specialized agencies, and regional organizations,” Hontiveros said.
“Despite the Hague Ruling, China continues to harass our navy, remain hostile to our fisherfolks, and put the fishing industry in the area under jeopardy. This is nothing but a constant rejection of the basic tenets of international law. Beijing’s blunt refusal to accept her legal fate should have serious consequences. The UN General Assembly should be able to tell China to behave,” she added.
Last July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration decided that the Philippines has rights to its EEZ, and that China’s nine-dash line claim — which encompasses part of the WPS — has no legal and historical basis.
China previously said that they do not acknowledge the ruling, maintaining that parts of the country’s EEZ are Chinese territory.
The past administration has tried to mend ties with China, which eventually resulted in an expanded cooperation between the two nations. However, several fisherfolk were still harassed in the WPS — including an incident in June 2019 at Recto Bank where a Filipino fishing boat was sank by a Chinese vessel.
The Chinese vessel eventually abandoned the Filipino fisherfolk at sea, stoking a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.