28.7 C
Friday, July 26, 2024

PH mulls new environmental suit vs. China

- Advertisement -

The Philippines is collecting evidence for the possible filing of a new case against China, this time for environmental damage in the West Philippine Sea, the National Security Council said on Monday.

NSC assistant director general Jonathan Malaya said the evidence, which includes images of how Chinese activities destroyed the already fragile marine environment in Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.

He said these will be submitted to the Department of Justice and Office of the Solicitor General for the country’s next case against China.

“We’re currently collecting all the necessary evidence and information because the filing of another case, in particular an environmental case, of course, will require evidence and necessary data and information,” Malaya said.

“It (timeline) will depend on the gravity of the evidence because we will not go to court if we will not win,” he added.

Malaya disclosed that between 2017 and 2019, the Philippine Coast Guard already compiled images of the destruction in Scarborough Shoal.

The photos were submitted to the office  of then President Rodrigo Duterte, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).

Asked what happened after the photos were transmitted, PCG spokesman for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said: “I don’t know.”

Some of the photos showed alleged Chinese fishermen illegally harvesting giant clams, sting rays, and sea turtles.

“On top of China’s consistent harvesting activities, underwater footages as early as 2017 confirm that their presence and ecological footprint has led to the degradation of the marine environment in Bajo de Masinloc,” Tarriela said.

Malaya said since the pieces of evidence were gathered after the 2016 arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines’ claims in areas of the South China Sea that are part of its Exclusive Economic Zone, “perhaps it is now time to file a new case.”

“In order for the  world to find out if China indeed has fulfilled its obligations under international law, let us open Bajo de Masinloc to international scrutiny,” Malaya said.

“We can ask third party environmental groups or even the United Nations to do a fact-finding mission to determine the environmental situation in Bajo de Masinloc,” he added.

Earlier, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio prodded the Philippine government to sue China anew, but this time for damages, due to the destruction of Escoda Shoal and Rozul Reef.

“The next arbitration case that we are recommending is for the following purposes: one, to sue China for damages because they destroyed Escoda Shoal and Rozul Reef,” Carpio said.

Carpio pointed out that the two features are within the Philippines’ EEZ.

The retired SC magistrate made the call after the PCG accused China of building an artificial island in Escoda Shoal. It said the dumping of crushed corals near the shoal may be in preparation for China’s reclamation activities.

Escoda Shoal is much closer to Palawan than the contested Ayungin Shoal.

Last year, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla also said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is recommending the filing of cases against China following reports of missing corals in Rozul Reef.


Popular Articles