Rich West Philippine Sea resources banner Hague ruling ‘victory day’

June 30, 2021 - 12:46 PM
1721
Chinese vessels, believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, are seen at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea on March 27, 2021. (Picture taken March 27, 2021. Philippine Coast Guard/National Task Force-West Philippine Sea/Handout via Reuters)

(Updated 3:28 p.m.) Filipinos can benefit millions worth of natural gas, oil and annual fish yield from the West Philippine Sea, according to Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Hontiveros previously filed a Senate resolution that seeks to mark July 12 as National West Philippine Sea Victory Day to commemorate the Philippines’ win against China before the international court in 2016.

This proposed measure was also filed to honor the late former President Benigno Aquino III’s legacy and work.

Aquino, the country’s 15th president, died on the morning of June 24. He died at 61 years old.

It was under his term when the maritime dispute with China was brought to The Hague.

In 2016, the UN Tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China’s “nine-dash line” claim, which covers 90% of South China Sea.

In her latest post on Wednesday, Hontiveros stated how much Filipinos can earn with the resources found in the West Philippine Sea should the national government reinforce the country’s rights over it.

“Napakayaman ng West Philippine Sea pero hindi ito common knowledge para sa napakaraming kababayan natin. Celebrating a National West Philippine Sea Victory Day will enable Filipinos to understand and know more about the importance of fighting for the #WestPhilippineSea,” she wrote.

 

In the infographic attached, the resource-filled sea is worth:

  1. 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas
  2. 4 billion barrels of oil
  3. 5 billion tons of annual fish yield

In her previous post on June 28, the lawmaker expressed her gratitude to Aquino and his administration for the landmark win against China’s sweeping claim.

“Si PNoy ang ama ng ating tagumpay sa The Hague noong 2016. Nang dahil sa tagumpay na ito, buo ang loob ng international community na kumampi sa Pilipinas sa bawat pagmamalabis ng Tsina,” Hontiveros wrote.

 

Under the Senate Resolution 762 the senator filed, the rich biodiversity of WPS was detailed.

“The marine environment in the WPS is exceptionally biodiverse, and contains numerous species of fish, echinoderms, mangroves, seagrasses, giant clams, and marine turtles, including those considered vulnerable or endangered, and vast coral reefs – almost as large as Mindanao – that serve as spawning grounds of staple food species such as tuna, galunggong, and danggit,” it reads. 

Cheers and jeers

Some Filipinos welcomed this proposal, saying that this would remind the government and the public of the importance of the WPS as part of the country’s territory.

“This is a very welcoming and timely development. Let it be a firm reminder to all Filipinos born and those to come that the West Philippines Sea is ours for all legal intents and purposes henceforth,” one user wrote.

Others, however, argued that this measure cannot make China dismantle and leave the infrastructures it has already built in the islands within the WPS.

“Hindi mo pwede i-declara na victorious kung hindi naman mabawi-bawi at mapaalis mga structure ng China doon. Gawa nalang sila ng batas na pwede gumawa ng sariling barkong pandigma at mga helicopter ang mga Pilipino,” another user said.

Other resolutions

Aside from Hontiveros, fellow opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Senate President Vicente Sotto III also filed separate resolutions to honor the late chief executive.

Pangilinan sought to honor Aquino’s “landmark reforms” in Senate Resolution 765.

He said this would highlight “the accomplishments of the Aquino administration that elevated the Philippines from being the ‘Sick Man of Asia’ to being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.”

Sotto, meanwhile, hailed Aquino’s tenures in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the proposed resolution that also expressed his sympathy to the rest of the Aquino family.

Last June 24, President Rodrigo Duterte also signed a proclamation declaring 10 days of national mourning over the death of his predecessor Aquino. This would take effect from June 24 until July 3.

READ: Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino dies of renal failure at 61