Press Release
June 28, 2021

De Lima urges Filipinos to choose leaders who will defend PH vs unrelenting Chinese incursions

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged Filipinos to help defend the country's national sovereignty by valuing their right to suffrage and electing worthy and pro-Filipino leaders in the upcoming 2022 elections.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the Filipino electorate should not vote for leaders like Duterte who, upon assuming office in 2016, already decided that he will unequivocally side with his Beijing masters and has since refused to stand against unrelenting Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

"Recently, instead of de-escalating brewing tensions in international waters, Duterte's Beijing friends sent more ships to our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), further robbing our fishermen of their livelihood, destroying our marine resources and negatively impacting our economy," she said.

"Now, nobody expects Duterte to stand against this Chinese incursions in WPS because of his puppy-like love for Xi Jinping. He will ignore this issue or utter the same excuses he memorized in the past five years of his cowardice-filled rule.

With Duterte's policy of subservience and surrender to China, De Lima said that the future of the Philippines is now in the hands of the Filipino electorate, saying "To those who still haven't, please register to vote now. Let us vote for our national sovereignty. Let us vote for our territorial integrity. Let us vote for the protection of our rights."

"Iboto natin ang poprotekta sa kabuhayan ng mangingisdang Pilipino at dedepensa sa dangal ng Pilipinas," she added.

In its 14-page report released Sunday, US-based Simularity said more than 100 additional vessels that are "likely Chinese ships," were spotted within the country's EEZ in the WPS this month.

"As of June 17, 2021, approximately 238 ships are in the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," the report read.

Likewise, based on satellite images released by Simularity, some 236 ships were detected in Union Banks or Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs from between mid-May and mid-June.

De Lima said "the past administration already armed him with the best reason to put more pressure against China's invasion. But what did he do? He set aside the 2016 Hague ruling and claimed that it was just a piece of paper to be thrown in the trash."

In 2013, under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, it may be recalled that the Philippines challenged China's legal basis for its expansive claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, and won the case in a landmark award in 2016 after the tribunal invalidated Beijing's assertions.

In a landmark ruling on July 12, 2016, the Hague-based PCA found no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to a "nine-dash line" in the WPS but China refused to honor the ruling.

Last April, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 694 urging the government's Executive branch to exert all legal and diplomatic actions on the Chinese government in asserting Philippine sovereign rights in the WPS.

De Lima, who was part of the Philippine delegation who argued the Philippines' arbitration case against China over the WPS before The Hague during her stint as Justice Secretary, is also among the 11 Senators who filed SR No. 708 urging the Upper Chamber to "condemn in the strongest possible terms" the illegal activities of China in the disputed waters.

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