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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Environmental case vs China over West Philippine Sea destruction ready soon—DOJ 

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Thursday that it is on track to file an environmental case against China for its alleged destruction in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) within the next few weeks.

Justice Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano IV disclosed the information during his guest appearance on the program “Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon” over the state-run PTV network.  He expressed confidence in the progress of the case.

“We are confident that in a few weeks, the complaint and the attached evidence will be completed,” Clavano stated. He added that with the assistance of the Solicitor General, the Philippines aims to move forward with the case promptly.

While Clavano did not specify an exact date for the filing, the preparation reflects an ongoing effort by the Philippine government to address environmental damages in the contested maritime region.

The push to hold China accountable gained momentum in September 2023, when Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla proposed legal action following reports from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command about extensive coral harvesting along Rozul (Iroquois) Reef.

Remulla has suggested that the case might be filed in early 2024.

Adding to the urgency, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has urged the government to include damages at Escoda Shoal in the complaint.

The Philippine Coast Guard has accused China of constructing an artificial island in the area and potentially preparing for reclamation activities by dumping crushed corals near the shoal.

This environmental case follows the Philippines’ landmark legal victory in 2016 when the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of Manila, invalidating China’s expansive claims in the WPS or what it calls South China Sea.

Despite the ruling, Beijing has not complied and continues its activities in the disputed waters. The contested areas in the said maritime region fall within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, which is recognized by international laws. 

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