DOJ: Coral damage case vs China to be filed soon

DOJ: Coral damage case vs China to be filed soon

/ 05:42 AM May 31, 2024

DOJ: Coral damage case vs China to be filed soon

MARINE DESTRUCTION The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the coral rubble found near Escoda (Sabina) Shoal pointed to reclamation or island-building attempts within the country’s exclusive economic zone. —PCG

The Philippines may be filing “in a few weeks” an environmental damage case against China for its island-building activities that damaged coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently working with the Office of the Solicitor General on preparing the case, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said in an interview over Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon on Thursday.


“We need to make sure that our evidence that we will be attaching to the complaint is solid. But we are confident that in a few weeks, we will finish our complaint and the evidence attachments,” Clavano added.


“Hopefully, with the help of the Office of the Solicitor General, we will be able to file an environmental case against China,” he said, although he did not mention a target date for the filing of the case.

Clavano made the remarks after the Philippine Coast Guard discovered crushed coral fragments in the cays near Pag-asa (Thitu) Island and Escoda (Sabina) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

The PCG said the dumped dead coral rubble was an indication of attempts at small-scale reclamation or island building within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Scientists’ findings

A team of scientists also found that the Pag-asa Island cays had a low abundance and diversity of coral and fish that were too few and small in size.

In September 2023, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla mentioned the filing of a case against China after the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command said there was a massive harvesting of corals at Rozul Reef.

Remulla had said then that the Philippine government may lodge the complaint against Beijing in 2024, adding that the environmental complaint could force China to respect international maritime laws.


Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court later urged the government to include the environmental damage found in Escoda Shoal in its case against Beijing.

In 2013, the Philippines challenged China’s nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

It won a landmark ruling in July 2016 after the arbitral tribunal junked Beijing’s vast claims and upheld Manila’s claim to the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ EEZ.

Unilateral fishing ban

However, China has refused to recognize the ruling and continues its harassment of Filipino fisherfolk and Philippine government ships in the West Philippine Sea.

It recently imposed its yearly four-month fishing ban on parts of the South China Sea, including Panatag Shoal, prompting the Department of Foreign Affairs to file a protest against the moratorium.

Earlier this month, the Chinese government said that its coast guard had been authorized to detain—for up to 60 days without trial—foreigners found trespassing into its territorial waters in the South China Sea.

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It also warned that those “suspected of endangering national security and interests, disrupting public order or engaging in other illegal criminal activities” could also be detained for up to 30 days.

TAGS: China, Corals

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