Senate defers decision to raise before UN China’s aggression in WPS
MANILA, Philippines — The bid to raise China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea before the United Nations General Assembly was stalled in the Senate following concerns raised by some lawmakers.
Senate Resolution No. 659 seeks to bring China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea before the United Nations General Assembly.
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, sponsor of the resolution, said a UN General Assembly measure could bolster the 2016 arbitral award, making it clear that China’s claim of historic rights to resources in the waters of the entire South China Sea was “illegal and incompatible.”
But during a plenary session on Wednesday, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano challenged the measure and asked why it specifically called out China when other countries are also taking advantage of Philippine waters.
“We also have a dispute with Vietnam and Malaysia. Ang question ko ay kung tayong lahat ay may dispute dyan, bakit sa resolution na ito China lang ang ating tinutukoy or why are we concentrating only or limiting this resolution to China? Why don’t we also ask the UN to look into on why Vietnam and Malaysia are intruding into our waters?,” said Cayetano.
(We also have a dispute with Vietnam and Malaysia. My question is if we all have a dispute there, why in this resolution are we only referring to China or why are we concentrating only or limiting this resolution to China? Why don’t we also ask the UN to look into why Vietnam and Malaysia are intruding into our waters.)
Hontiveros responded to this by saying that the sole subject of the resolution is China because it was China, aside from the Philippines, who was also the subject of the 2016 landmark ruling in Hague.
“Kahit pa po siguro tignan natin o pagsama-samahin ang Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia or any other countries with which we have had any incident or troubles in the West Philippine Sea in the past many years, siguro ay mas kaunti pa ang mga insidenteng iyon kahit i-total natin,” said Hontiveros.
(Even if we look at Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia or any other countries with which we have had any incident or troubles in the West Philippine Sea in the past many years, maybe those incidents will be less even if we tally it.)
“It is possible that these are [also] milder compared to the amount, intensity, and continuity of the incidents that our country has suffered at the hands of China. This is not a question of disputes, this is a question of a questionable legal theory which is the nine-dash line,” Hontiveros added in a mix of English and Filipino.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda likewise stated that all 24 elected Senators agree that the country must uphold the 2016 arbitral ruling, but she stressed that “there is a process and a strategy for information dissemination and how to allow other countries to give us greater support.”
“Hindi po tayo nag aatubili sa ating pananaw na napakahalaga ang Hague ruling, ngunit kailangang ang estratehiya ay hindi lahat binabasa o sinasabi sa pampubliko, dahil gaya ng sinabi ni Senator Cayetano, naririnig tayo ng mga taong nanghihimasok sa ating karagatan,” said Legarda.
(We do not hesitate in our view that the Hague ruling is very important, but the strategy needs to be that not everything is read or said to the public, because as Senator Cayetano said, people who are concerned about our ocean can hear us.)
Senator Roland “Bato” Dela Rosa, on the other hand, backed Cayetano’s statement but he also highlighted that he shares Hontiveros’ “outrage” and “frustration” over China’s aggression in Philippine waters.
“I sympathize with the good sponsor of this measure. I share her outrage, I share her frustration, but also, I also share the plans of Senator Cayetano so that our strategy is good and so that our opponents cannot single us out,” said Dela Rosa.
With these differences, the senate has suspended the consideration of the resolution until Monday, July 31.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri called for a caucus on Monday, inviting all members of the Senate, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Presidential Adviser of the West Philippine Sea General Andres Centino, and the National Security Council.