De Lima hits China over remarks on PH maritime activities in WPS


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has chided China for asking the Philippines to stop its maritime activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to supposedly prevent complicating the situation and escalating disputes in the resource-rich waters.

De Lima, who was part of the Philippine delegation who argued the Philippines’ arbitration case against China over the WPS before The Hague during her stint as Justice Secretary, said that China, and not the Philippines, is the one escalating disputes in the WPS as it continues to assault the country’s sovereignty in the area without getting any objection from Duterte.

Sila ang dapat umalis sa teritoryo natin. Sila na itong nanghimasok at yumuyurak sa soberanya natin, sila na itong naninira sa kabuhayan at nang-aapi sa mga kababayan natin, sila pa itong may lakas ng loob na magbanta at baligtarin ang sitwasyon,” she said.

Lumalakas ang loob nilang magsalita, gaano man kagarapal, dahil tikom ang bibig ni Duterte sa ginagawang pagkamkam ng China sa ating teritoryo. Duwag na, pro-China pa,” she added.

In a recent press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin insisted that “China enjoys sovereignty over Nansha (Spratly) Islands including Zhongye (Pag-Asa) Island and Zhongsha Islands, including Huangyan Island (Panatag Shoal) and their adjacent waters, and exercises jurisdiction in relevant waters.”

He further urged the Philippines “to respect China’s sovereignty and rights and interests, and stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes.”

Contrary to China’s claims that they have rights over WPS, it must be noted that in a landmark ruling on July 12, 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) found no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to a “nine-dash line” in the WPS but China refused to honor the ruling.

In fact, the said arbitral award recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its 200 nautical miles (NM) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the WPS.

De Lima reiterated that Duterte should stand against unrelenting Chinese incursion in the WPS and stop tolerating its continued disrespect of the country’s sovereignty.

“China continues to bully us but Duterte, being China’s famous lackey, remains unperturbed. Whatever happened to his promise to defend our sovereignty with his life? Yet again, broken and unfulfilled,” she said.

“Siya na nga itong walang ginawa kundi ang magpakaduwag sa China sa halos limang taon niyang panunungkulan, siya pa itong may kapal ng mukhang sisihin ang nakaraang administrasyon sa kawalang aksyon sa pagkamkam sa ating teritoryo,” she added.

This April, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) 694 urging the government’s Executive branch to exert all legal and diplomatic actions on the Chinese government in asserting Philippine sovereign rights in the WPS.

De Lima is also among the 11 Senators who recently filed SR No. 708 urging the upper chamber to “condemn in the strongest possible terms” the illegal activities of China in the disputed waters.  (30)

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