UN should tell China to ‘behave’ in West Philippine Sea: Philippine lawmaker

The opposition lawmaker also said a UN General Assembly resolution would be needed since China continued to exhibit aggression on Philippine vessels.

Beatrice Pinlac

Beatrice Pinlac

Philippine Daily Inquirer


President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on Sept. 20, 2022. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / Agence France-Presse)

June 21, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) should be able to tell China to “behave” in the West Philippine Sea, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Tuesday in a bid to raise the issue before the international body.

Hontiveros made the statement as she stressed the need for Senate Resolution No. 659, which urges the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to sponsor a UNGA resolution calling on China to stop harassing Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea.

“So the UN General Assembly should have the ability to tell China to behave,” Hontieveros said in Filipino in an online interview.

The opposition lawmaker said a UNGA resolution would be needed since China continued to exhibit aggression on Philippine vessels.

“What China has been doing is none other than a consistent rejection of the basic tenets of international law. This is a blunt refusal of Beijing to accept its fate — its legal fate. This should have serious consequences. This cannot be ignored,” Hontiveros said in Filipino.

She was referring to the 2016 Hague ruling that affirmed the Philippines ’ rights to its exclusive economic zone and rejected Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

Hontiveros argued that a UNGA resolution would carry “meaningful, political weight” and would serve as the willful consensus of the international community on the maritime dispute.

The resolution, she added, would also have the potential to shape international norms, influence the national policies of member countries, and guide the work of UN bodies and even regional organizations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Sen. JV Ejercito, who had repeatedly called out China’s encroachment into Philippine waters, said he would back the call of Hontiveros.

“I would support that. Because in recent months, the Chinese Coast Guard, in particular, has been very hostile to the Navy, to our fishermen, to the Philippine Coast Guard, and even to our media men,” he said in a media interview at the Senate.

Ejercito decried China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea, which has “become a very regular occurrence already.”

Despite the huge volume of notes verbales sent by the DFA to China, Ejercito said the Asian giant had not yet changed its attitude in the disputed waters.

Sen. Sonny Angara, meanwhile, said the Philippines should carefully weigh its options in dealing with the West Philippine Sea issue.

“We should weigh it against the other interests of the country because we have a lot of businesses with China. We sell a lot of products to China. We have a lot of OFWs in China. So these are the kind of things we need to weigh against the other interests of the country,” Angara said in Filipino.

Ties between the Philippines and China have been strained for decades because of their dispute over the West Philippine Sea.

The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has so far taken a tougher position in asserting the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea – a stark difference from how things were during the time of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

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