DFA backs 2nd lawsuit vs China
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) of its support in seeking legal compensation for the damage Chinese fishers have caused in Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“The DFA stands ready to contribute to this effort and will be guided by the OSG on these matters,” Teresita Daza, spokesperson for the DFA, said on Thursday, a day after Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra announced that his office was establishing facts and gathering data on the environmental damage.
Guevarra told journalists that the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) BRP Sindangan (MRRV 4407) and BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409) monitored about 33 Chinese militia vessels in the vicinity of Rozul Reef and 15 at Escoda Shoal from Aug. 9 to Sept. 11.
The PCG also released on social media a video of what it called “severe damage” on the marine environment and coral reef in Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal.
Guevarra said they were not discounting the possibility of filing a complaint for damages before an international tribunal with proper jurisdiction, such as the arbitral tribunal which invalidated China’s extensive territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea in 2016.That 2016 arbitral award, the DFA said, also mandated states to protect and preserve maritime environments “both inside the national jurisdiction of States and beyond it.”
“States entering the Philippines’ [exclusive economic zone] and maritime zones therefore are likewise obliged to protect and preserve our marine environment,” Daza said.
But the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said Manila’s accusation had “no factual basis” and urged it to “stop creating political drama from fiction.”
“If the Philippines truly cares about the ecological environment of the South China Sea, it should tow away the illegally “grounded” warship at Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal) as soon as possible, stop it from discharging polluted water into the ocean and not let the rusting warship bring irrevocable harm to the ocean,” the MFA said on Thursday.
The MFA was referring to the BRP Sierra Madre that was run aground on Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to protect the country’s sovereign rights in the area.
But former Sen. Orly Mercado, who was defense secretary when the Sierra Madre was stationed at Ayungin Shoal, disputed Beijing’s argument.
“It is obvious that China is scraping the bottom of a single rusting ship to justify its massive destruction of coral reefs. It is a feeble attempt at “what about-ism” that only reveals its adherence to the bully’s motto that ‘might is right,’” Mercado told the Inquirer on Friday. INQ