Corals harvested in WPS may be for reclamation — DND
PAMPANGA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Tuesday floated the possibility that the reported destruction of coral reefs and harvesting of corals in the West Philippine Sea by foreign entities may be used for reclamation and construction of artificial islands.
Teodoro made the remark after the Philippine Coast Guard said it spotted destroyed coral reefs in Escoda (Sabina) Shoal and a “deliberate” man-made alteration of the “natural topography of the underwater terrain” in that area, where Chinese maritime militia vessels have been repeatedly flagged for swarming and intruding into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“We have to validate it because according to the arbitral award, that is a violation of an international treaty: the destruction of maritime life, particularly if the coral destruction is a cause of, or used for, reclamation of artificial islands,” Teodoro said in a chance interview here in Mabalacat town.
“Now we have to validate it and then we’ll coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs so that we can file the appropriate action,” he added.
Teodoro was in Mabalacat to lead the turnover ceremony of the brand new Cessna-208B Caravan intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft from the United States.
Teodoro said the aircraft could be used for conducting patrols nationwide, including the West Philippine Sea.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., who also attended the event, echoed Teodoro’s pronouncements.
“This aircraft will boost our capability of patrolling our maritime seas … our ability to protect our sovereign rights in our exclusive economic zone depends highly on the equipment that we have, so definitely this aircraft will help us, will boost our capability in making sure that we secure our territory and our sovereign rights,” Brawner said.