PH must rekindle alliance with countries supporting rule of law; enter exploration agreements only with those who recognize our sovereign rights – De Lima


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To uphold peace and stability, re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima called on the government to rekindle the nation’s alliance with countries that support the rule of law and enact laws that support economic and military cooperation with them.

De Lima, who is seeking reelection under the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket, maintained that as a small country with limited military power, “our best recourse is to cultivate strong and positive international relations.”

“We need to ensure that our rights as a sovereign nation are reflected in our treaties and policies,” she said.

De Lima was particular with asserting the country’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), which China claims to own despite a landmark ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) finding no legal basis for the latter to claim historic rights to a “nine-dash line” in the WPS.

In the said decision released last July 12, 2016, the PCA upheld Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) rights in the WPS, noting that China’s large-scale  reclamation has “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems.”

“We should stand our ground in upholding the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the WPS. No agreements should be entered into by the government conditioned on our silence on the WPS ruling,” De Lima said.

The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that the Philippines should enter into exploration agreements only with those who recognize the country’s rights over the WPS and its EEZ.

“We should engage more countries that are not claimants in the South China Sea to operate in the WPS. The presence of the international community in the region should deter some aggressiveness on the part of China,” she said.

In 2019, De Lima filed Proposed Senate Bill (SB) No. 376, declaring July 12 of every year as the “West Philippine Sea Victory Day” to mark the historic decision of the PCA in The Hague, Netherlands and to commemorate the country’s arbitration victory against China.

Last April 2021, De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 694 urging the government’s Executive branch to exert all legal and diplomatic actions on the Chinese government to assert Philippine sovereign rights in the WPS. (30)

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