Reigh John Bench Almendras
The Philippine Coast Guard takes action against the Chinese Government in a series of activities to protect its territorial waters. Illustration courtesy of WAR ESPEJO of Spot.ph.
The Chinese Government continues to build more infractures and assert jurisdiction over the contested West Philippine Sea (WPS). Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilbert Teodoro calls the activities “pananakop,” a Filipino term for invasion.
Since 2016, the Chinese Government has built structures in the WPS, including a war base which continuously grows through the years. There are also reports of aggression in the area, as Chinese Coast Guards hoses down Filipino fisherfolks and points skin and sight-triggering laser beams to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
According to the data from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), China has already established thirty outposts in the disputed waters which occupy 6 diverse reefs namely Calderon Reef, Kagitingan Reef, Burgos Reef, McKennan Reef, Panganiban Reef, and Zamora Reef.
AMTI has also recorded dredging activities in the area, and an evident dominance and control over the Scarborough Shoal which lies in the coast of Zambales.
New Island and Strategic Spot
The dredging of China has resulted in forming new islands in the contested waters. Combined with its assertion that the jurisdiction of the area belongs to them despite rulings favoring the Philippines, China continuously conducts its illegal activities over the WPS.
According to Julio Amador III, president of the Foundation for National Interest and founder of FACTS Asia, China’s illegal activities over the area strengthen its strategic position over the region.
Illegality of the Activities
Former Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reiterates that most of the areas occupied and dominated by the Chinese government belong to the Philippines, and if left unchecked, eighty percent of the Philippine economic zone is at stake, comprising 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space.
The activities of the Chinese government is against the 2016 Hague Ruling, as it favors the Philippines to exercise jurisdiction over the area, and a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which has already rallied behind the Phillipines.
In addressing the activities of the Chinese government, the Philippine government eyes restitution from China before the International Tribunal, aiming to receive compensation from the increasing transgressions in the WPS.