Press Release
July 31, 2023

'Now is the time'
Hontiveros asserts raising WPS issue to the UNGA

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday asserted that 'now is the time' to bring the West Philippine Sea issue to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), given that more nations have expressed solidarity with the Philippines' 2016 Arbitral Award.

"More and more nations are recognizing our legitimate rights in the West Philippine Sea, so why not seize this opportunity now? Government cannot do nothing. Araw-araw ang pambabastos ng Tsina sa ating karagatan at sa ating mga mamamayan. Ipakita naman ng gubyerno na kinakampihan natin ang Pilipino, hindi ang Tsina," Hontiveros said.

Last week, the senator principally sponsored Proposed Senate Resolution 659, which calls on the government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to raise China's continuous harassment of Philippine vessels to the UNGA.

The resolution was then co-sponsored by Senate President Migz Zubiri, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, and Sen. Raffy Tulfo. However, the Senate did not yet adopt the resolution, as some members of the body requested for a closed-door meeting to further discuss the issue.

"As I said on the floor, I am willing to accept amendments. But the resolution should still urge the Executive to exhaust all diplomatic means at our disposal, specifically bringing the issue to a larger international body, including the UNGA. Dapat maliwanag na may gagawing aksyon. We should not yield to China's threats and intimidation. Bakit ngayon pa tayo matatakot lumaban kung napakarami na tayong kakampi?" the senator asked.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, 16 member-states of the European Union, and India, among others have expressed and reaffirmed their support for the arbitral ruling.

The senator also reiterated that bringing the issue to the UNGA would not be a new course of action. She shared that Nicaragua had similarly sought the opinion of the UNGA after the United States of America failed to comply with an International Court of Justice ruling that ordered the US to end her actions against Nicaragua. The UNGA adopted Nicaragua's resolution.

"When a weaker state is pushed into a corner by a stronger state, it is only sensible that the weaker state build and mobilize the widest international consensus possible. Tiwala ako sa DFA na kaya nila itong simulan sa lalong madaling panahon," she said.

"A UNGA resolution could complement our beautiful victory at the Hague, which is complete in and of itself. Papalakasin lang niya ang ating nauna nang panalo. We cannot delay pursuing any and all options. Buhay at hanapbuhay ng mga Pilipino ang nakataya dito," Hontiveros concluded.

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