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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

China arrest order in SCS unacceptable — PBBM

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President Marcos denounced the reported directive of the Chinese government permitting its coast guard to apprehend foreigners deemed intruding into the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“That kind of action would be completely unacceptable to the Philippines,” President Marcos said.

“I do not talk about operational details, but the position that we take is that it’s unacceptable and we will take whatever measures to always protect our citizens,” he added.

The Chinese government reportedly issued this regulation following the recent civilian resupply mission of the ‘Atin Ito’ coalition to Filipino fishermen in the WPS.

According to recent reports, new Chinese regulations grant the Chinese Coast Guard the authority to detain trespassers in the South China Sea without trial and could be held for up to 60 days.

Meanwhile, the New Masinloc Fishermen Association on Sunday stood firm that they will continue fishing in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) despite China’s regulation of detaining any foreign nationals “trespassing” in the South China Sea.

Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, Leonardo Cuaresma, president of the Zambales-based association, condemned China’s threats to jail WPS trespassers, saying that Filipino fishermen know that they are only fishing in the Philippine territory.

He also appealed for the Philippine government to deploy more personnel patrolling the West Philippine Sea daily.

“Kung kinakailangan siguro ay ibuhos natin ang ating buong lakas parang sa ganon ay makita nila na pinapakita natin na hindi nila teritoryo ang lugar na ‘yan,” he added.

(We might need to exert our full strength to make China see that we want to tell them that that place is not their territory.)

Akbayan president and ‘Atin Ito’ co-convenor Rafaela David also strongly condemned China’s threat to detain alleged trespassers, who venture into the WPS.

In a statement, David called it a “desperate move” to undermine the growing and effective active citizenship of Filipinos asserting their rights in the region.

“China’s attempt to intimidate and deter Filipino citizens from exercising their rightful activities in the WPS will not succeed. Instead, it further galvanizes our resolve to stand up for our rights and freedoms,” David said.

“The international community must recognize and condemn these aggressive tactics by China, which are designed to stifle legitimate civilian movements and maintain their militarized presence in the WPS,” she added.

At the Senate, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Tolentino said China risks violating international laws if it pushes through with its recent policy of detaining foreigners passing through South China Sea, known in Manila as West Philippine Sea.

Hontiveros said over the weekend that the Philippines might be compelled to sue China at the Hague Tribunal again if it enforces its new regulation. She called the policy illegal, highlighting it as further evidence of China’s emerging reputation as a rogue nation.

The senator believes the policy was in direct response to the ‘Atin Ito’ coalition, which recently conducted a peaceful civilian supply mission on the waters of Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough and Panatag Shoal), in solidarity with Filipino fishermen struggling at sea.

Hontiveros said this clearly struck a nerve with China. Instead of responding diplomatically, Beijing opted to impose tyrannical tactics that only exacerbated the situation.

Tolentino echoed her sentiments, saying the Philippines could file additional cases against China before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

He pointed out that China’s maritime boundaries are well-defined, extending only 12 nautical miles from Hainan, far from the disputed Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, which fall within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.

Both senators called for international support against China’s latest actions.

On this note, senators pushed for Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes bill amid fresh threats from China

The establishment of Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes would ensure that foreign ships and aircraft exercising freedom of navigation shall not engage in threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of the Philippines.

Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, one of the authors of the proposed measure under Senate Bill No. 2665, said over the weekend, “They also cannot engage in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations (UN).”

His statement came after China released a statement, threatening to arrest foreigners without trial that would trespass in its highly militarized areas in the WPS.

The proposed “Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes bill was already sent to the Senate plenary.

Senator Francis Tolentino, the author and major sponsor of the measure, said the bill aims to establish a system of sea lanes in the Philippine waters by connecting the coordinates of the following access lines:

· Philippine Sea-Balintang Channel-WPS

· Celebes Sea-Sibutu Passage-Sulu Sea-Cuyo East Pass-Mindoro Strait-WPS

· Celebes Sea-Basilan Strait-Sulu Sea-Nasubata Channel-Balabac Strait-WPS

Tolentino cited the need for archipelagic sea lanes since the Philippines is made up of 7,641 islands.

“The international community afforded us the right to do so, and we have earned our legal and international recognition in no less than the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Tolentino said.

As embodied in the proposed bill, our fishing grounds and key biodiversity areas in Philippine waters would be protected.

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