Manifestation of Support on proposed Senate Resolution No. 659



Resolution urging the Philippine Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs to sponsor a resolution before the UN General Assembly calling on China to stop its harassment of Philippine vessels within the West Philippine Sea

Author: Sen. Risa Hontiveros

This is to express my unequivocal and all-out support to Senate Resolution No. 659, authored by our distinguished, soft-spoken but strong-willed deputy minority floor leader, Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

A decade ago, the Philippines initiated arbitration proceedings against China. In January 2013, our country haled China, a nation with land area 30 times larger and far mightier military prowess, to court. This action demonstrated the philippine government’s desire to clarify maritime jurisdiction and entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.

After three years, July 12, 2016, we achieved a historic legal victory – one that invalidated china’s nine-dash line and rejected its expansive maritime claims. This triumph was hailed around the world as proof that when international law is on your side, even the mightiest nations can be held accountable.

However, seven years later, the harassment, aggressive tactics, and the continuous presence of Chinese marine vessels within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as well as their apparent creeping invasion of our neighbor of our territory, persist unabated.

During our recent visit to Pag-asa Island, not far from the shore, we saw a fleet of chinese vessels. to our dismay, we even received text messages greeting us with “welcome to China” while on an island under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Kalayaan, Province of Palawan, Republic of the Philippines.

Enough is enough. Ilang mangingisda pa po ba ang matatakot at magdadalawang-isip na maglayag sa sarili nating karagatan para makapag-hanapbuhay? Ilang magigiting na kawal ng Philippine Coast Guard pa ang hihintayin nating mabulag o magkaroon ng kapansanan habang nagpa-patrolya sa ating teritoryo dahil sa pambubully ng Tsina? Ilang sundalo pa natin ang malalagay sa alanganing sitwasyon dahil sa ginagawang panghaharang at paghahamon ng mga Chinese vessels sa ating mga barko at sasakyang pandagat?

Malinaw na malinaw, mula sa mga binitiwang salita ng kanilang mga matataas na opisyal at sa ginagawang pagkilos ng Chinese militia, hindi kinikilala at nire-respeto ng Tsina ang naging desisyon sa the Hague.

The Philippines won against China. It is a message that should be repeated over and over, at every opportunity, including at the august chamber of the United Nations General Assembly.

We are a David to China’s Goliath. We must seek the support of the international community to rally behind our cause for a rules-based international order, one that is not dictated by swords or guns but is won through respect for laws and sovereignty.

It is in our best interest to follow through on the earlier pronouncement of former President Rodrigo Duterte when he invoked the arbitration ruling in his first-ever address to the UN General Assembly in 2020, wherein he asserted that it “is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon,” and that “we firmly reject attempts to undermine it.” he also emphasized what the victory stands for – “the triumph of reason over rashness, of law over disorder, of amity over ambition.”

Sundan po natin ang naunang positibong hakbang ng nakaraang administrasyon na ipaalala sa iba’t ibang bansa at igiit ang kahalagahan ng arbitral ruling sa pagtiyak ng kapayapaan at seguridad sa rehiyon.

In solidarity with Sen. Hontiveros, I cross political party lines and stand for our national interest. I join her in fervently calling on the community of nations to stop the harassment and bullying in the West Philippine Sea, and to urge our neighbor china to respect the landmark ruling of the permanent court of arbitration.

I trust that the department of foreign affairs will favorably respond to the resolution, and act swiftly on this measure.