Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano on Wednesday urged the Duterte administration to monitor China’s coral reef rehabilitation at the South China Sea.
While China may be sincere in its alleged intention to rehabilitate the coral reefs it destroyed, “let us not forget that there is an existing territorial conflict. The Philippine government to take an active role in monitoring this project being a claimant of the South China Sea. The rehabilitation project could be just one of the many ploys of China to occupy land feartures in the area,” said Alejano, an oppositionist.
China earlier announced that it will rehabilitate the coral ecosystem that it destroyed while building manmade islands in the contested territory. From 2013 to 2016, China’s reclamation and construction of artificial islands caused the shredding of corals in the Spratlys.
Alejano said the process of rehabilitating the coral reefs must also be accessible to the claimants of the territory other than China.
“To unilaterally rehabilitate them denies the other parties, such as the Philippines, of the right to cooperate. After all, environmental conservation is not only a unilateral concern, but a multi-party one. The unilateral actions of China show a clear disrespect to the Philippines as claimant of the territory,” Alejano said.
He asked the administration to look into the environmental conservation effort especially now that there is an existing territorial conflict among claimants.
Alejano was referring to reports on environmental destruction and legal opinions on the implications of unilateral rehabilitation to the South China Sea dispute, since China has been occupying land features in the region quietly but aggressively.
“This issue should be given attention by the government because China’s rehabilitation project is not merely an environmental issue. Our conflict with China necessitates us to be vigilant on this issue,” Alejano said.