Senator Joel Villanueva called on the government and the public on Wednesday to insist on our country’s rightful claim over the West Philippine Sea amid the ongoing militarization of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago.
A recent report revealed aerial photographs showing the building of runways, military facilities, and stationary weapons on Kagitingan Reef, Calderon, Burgos, Mabini, Panganiban, Zamora, and McKennan reefs.
China’s militarization has been ongoing despite the ruling of UN-backed tribunal favoring the Philippines’ claim to exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea. The international court also ruled that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid and that Beijing violated Manila’s sovereign rights to fish and explore for minerals in the disputed territory.
Villanueva said that since the decision of an international tribunal has no enforcement apparatus, the senator said it would be best for the government and its citizens to fully exercise our sovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea.
“We implore the government and the entirety of the Filipino nation to continuously uphold and express our claim of rightful ownership over the West Philippine Sea. Through concrete solidarity in expressing our rightful claim, we can continue fully exercising our sovereign rights,” Villanueva emphasized.
The senator further noted that the Philippines cannot rely solely on ‘good faith’ in ensuring that China won’t occupy the islands in the West Philippine Sea despite its ongoing buildup in the area.
In December last year, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed the said Chinese construction in the West Philippine Sea saying that the Philippine will still rely on China’s good faith amid Beijing’s expansion of its man-made islands to boost their defense capabilities.
“It will not be enough to rely solely on ‘good faith’ on the part of China. We have to consistently express and stand by our sovereign rights,” Villanueva said.
“We sincerely urge everyone to champion our claim to the West Philippine Sea. Our victories in international arbitration have proven the validity of our claims to the area. We should maximize these gains to solve the issues in the West Philippine Sea,” the senator said.