“China’s expansionist policy based on its nine-dash line theory is without legal, historical and moral basis.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Bayan Muna partylist lawmakers told China to stop its land reclamation within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, and instead bring its claim to an international tribunal.
“China should stop its reclamation activities now and instead just engage us in the international tribunal if indeed they have the legal basis and evidence to do so,” said Bayan Muna representative and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares.
“As it is, China’s expansionist policy based on its nine-dash line theory is without legal, historical and moral basis,” he added.
China is claiming 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which overlaps on 80 percent of the EEZ and continental shelf of the Philippines, and also on those of Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
China claims all territories within the nine-dash-line in the map published by the Kuomintang government in 1947. This includes the Kalayaan Group of Islands (Spratlys islands).
In January 2013, the Department of Foreign Affairs had filed an arbitration case against China in the United Nations arbitration tribunal based on Article 287 and Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). Both the Philippines and China are signatory to the 1982 convention.
This year, the DFA submitted an additional 3,000-page document to prove its claim against China. The Unclos provides for a compulsory dispute settlement mechanism to resolve maritime issues between signatory countries.
“Every Filipino should defend our territory and exclusive economic zones and President Aquino should fortify our positions in the area to counter China’s aggressive acts,” Colmenares said.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment had earlier slammed China’s reclamation as threat to the marine biodiversity in the West Philippine Sea.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the Philippines should build its own strength and rely on the international community instead of depending on the help of the US. He added that the US posturing will not lead to its actual defense of the Philippines.
On April 9, US President Barack Obama expressed “concern” over China’s use of its “sheer size” in the maritime conflict during a forum with students in Kingston, Jamaica.
“President’s Obama’s statement on China’s expansion is a calculated response but the US would not risk a war with China because its economy would collapse without China,” Zarate said.
“The US owes China at least US$1.28 trillion and has a total of US$579 billion in trade with China, compared to only US$17.6 billion with the Philippines,” he added.
“It is best that we build our strength and rely on our own resolve with the help of the international community to defend our sovereignty rather than enter into lopsided deals like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” Zarate said.