Hontiveros presses China to pay ‘environmental damage’ in West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — China was once again pressed by opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros to pay for the “environmental damage” it caused in the West Philippine Sea.
Hontiveros made the call on Wednesday as she sought a Senate probe over China’s alleged harvesting and destruction of corals in Rozul Reef.
According to her, the Philippines could get billions if China is forced to pay, adding that this will equally benefit the country in light of the ongoing economic crisis.
“Ninanakawan na nga nila ng hanapbuhay ang ating mga mangingisda, winawasak pa nila ang ating likas-yaman. Kung mabayaran ng Tsina ang lahat ng utang niya sa Pilipinas, siguradong makakatulong ito sa kinakaharap nating krisis sa ekonomiya,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
(They are robbing our fishermen of their livelihood, and now they are even destroying our natural resources. If China can pay off all its debts to the Philippines, it will definitely help us amid the economic crisis we are facing.)
This wasn’t the first time that the senator urged China to pay. In 2020, Hontiveros pushed the Executive to pursue diplomatic efforts and obligate China to pay for damaging reef ecosystems in Panatag Shoal and Spratly Islands due to its reclamation activities.
Citing a scientist from the University of the Philippines, Hontiveros said the Philippines was losing an estimated amount of P33.1 billion annually due to these damage.
She also stressed that the Philippines has the right to charge China, pointing out that it wouldn’t be the first time that the country would seek reparations.
“Japan paid our country for her destruction of Manila during World War II, and in more recent history, the United States of America also paid the Philippines P87 million, after the USS Guardian damaged Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea,” Hontiveros explained.
Meanwhile, apart from pushing China to pay, Hontiveros also filed on Tuesday proposed Senate Resolution No. 804, calling the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the alleged harvesting and destruction of corals in Rozul Reef.
In her resolution, the senator stressed that the Philippines should explore available resources to hold China accountable, adding that this may include a claim for damages to be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration.