Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday the dumping of waste in the West Philippine Sea as reported by an American think tank is untrue.
“The reported dumping of waste in the WPS is not true. That photo is from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia,” he said in a text message.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also refuted the report.
“Report fake,” he said in a tweet.
Simularity, a geospatial intelligence firm, earlier said that raw sewage from hundreds of Chinese ships were being dumped on reefs in the Spratly Islands, leading to concentration of unwanted and harmful algae in the maritime area.
It said wastewater is being disposed of in the Spratly and Paracel Islands, based on satellite images taken by the European Space Agency.
Still, Senator Francis Pangilinan condemned the reported dumping of sewage and called on the Chinese government to stop such activities and leave the area.
“The area’s not even yours, yet you’re ruining it. Leave at once,” Pangilinan said in reacting to Simularity’s satellite data imagery showing the dumping.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also strongly deplored the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s assertion that the Philippines’ 2016 The Hague victory on the South China Sea is “a piece of waste paper.”
“I unequivocally condemn Chinese Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian’s statement that described our 2016 Hague victory as ‘nothing more than a piece of waste paper’ and that it is ‘illegal, null, and void,’ said Hontiveros.
“On what planet does he think China is?” asked the opposition senator, saying the entire world has accepted and honored this landmark legal decision.
Pangilinan said the government must assert its rights over the said waters and protect Filipino fishermen’s freedom to earn a living there.
At the same time, as oil prices continue to increase, Pangilinan underscores the potential of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as energy source that could shield Filipinos from oil price spikes.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also said China is not only reclaiming land in the West Philippine Sea, “by its actions, it is also renaming it as the Waste Philippine Sea.”
By turning reefs into toilets, Recto said two man-made things are now visible from space: the Great Wall of China on land, and the Great Wastes of China at sea.
“Ships are prohibited by domestic and international laws from dumping its refuse and trash into our oceans,” he added.
Under Philippine laws, Recto such are environmental crimes that carry a jail term and a hefty fine.
But even without these laws, decent human behavior commands civilized men not to turn rich fishing grounds into a cesspool of feces, he said.
The senator also said the DENR should investigate this, and if there is basis, file charges in court. Government cannot fine sidewalk litterers while turning a blind eye to this.
He said the DFA should also study filing a diplomatic protest.