Press Release
April 14, 2021

'DO SOMETHING': Hontiveros tells Malacañang amid continued presence of over 200 Chinese vessels in the WPS

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged Malacañang to strongly step up and stand up to Beijing, after the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that there are still around 240 Chinese maritime militia vessels, 11 Chinese warships, and poachers in the West Philippine Sea.

"What is Malacañang waiting for? Nagsalita na ang Department of National Defense. Nagsalita na ang Department of Foreign Affairs. Nagsalita na ako at ang mga kasamahan ko sa Senado. Lahat kami matinding kinondena ang panghihimasok ng Tsina. Dapat may gawin na ang Malacañang," Hontiveros said.

According to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, China's maritime militia vessels are now dispersed at Pagkakaisa Banks and Pag-asa Islands. The NTF-WPS also said that each vessel can catch at least one ton of fish or 240,000 kilos of fish in Philippine waters.

"Our DFA recently summoned the Chinese Ambassador to talk about the increasing tensions in the WPS. I had hoped that a fruitful and productive dialogue had taken place, but by the looks of this negative development, China is truly intent on refusing any diplomatic means of resolving our disputes. Dapat komprontahin na ng Palasyo ang 'best friend' niya. Harap-harapan nang niloloko ang Pilipinas," the senator said.

"Like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific region are taking action to ensure the rules-based international order. Yet, Malacañang hesitates," she added.

The Philippine Coast Guard also spotted Chinese poachers illegally harvesting giant clams around Pag-asa Islands. The poachers immediately left after they were approached by our coast guards. The NTF-WPS said that this is in violation of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

"ASEAN member states have pledged action against illegal wildlife trade. Baka ito na ang common ground na pwede nating pagkasunduan sa ASEAN para maitigil ang panghihimasok ng Tsina. And besides, history does not provide any evidence for China having exclusive sovereignty over the South China Sea or its resources. The SCS has always been shared by the peoples of the region for peaceful trade and commerce. Perhaps another way forward is to think of the SCS as a global commons for the benefit of all stakeholders in the region," she said.

"Dapat maging mas assertive din ating coast guards sa paghahanap ng mga Chinese na nanamantala ng ating karagatan at likas-yaman. We are within our Exclusive Economic Zone, so our coast guards have the absolute right to find out and report if China's 'fishing vessels' are complying with our environmental and fisheries laws," Hontiveros said, adding that we must also empower the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources by giving them boats to patrol and protect the environment.

Last February, Hontiveros said that China now owes the Philippines over P800 billion in debt due to the ecological damage in the WPS. Citing journalist Jarius Bondoc, she specified that a total of P644 billion worth of fish catch has been looted from our waters since 2014.

"At the rate China is going, she can easily deplete all our marine life, wealth, and resources in the WPS in no time. I call on Malacañang: do something about this now. We cannot afford to lose more than we already have. Bugbog na bugbog na tayo. Ipaglaban niyo naman ang Pilipino," Hontiveros concluded.

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