Press Release
September 20, 2023

Hontiveros renews call for China to pay billions in environmental damages in the WPS

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday renewed her call for China to pay environmental damages in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), after the Philippine Coast Guard recently confirmed that the destruction of coral reefs in Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal was most likely caused by Chinese maritime militia vessels.

The senator then filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 804, condemning the massive coral harvesting and urging the appropriate Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

"We should seek payment for damages caused by China in the WPS. Aabot ng bilyon-bilyon ang makukuha natin kung mao-obligang magbayad ang Tsina. Ninanakawan na nga nila ng hanapbuhay ang ating mga mangingisda, winawasak pa nila ang ating likas-yaman. Kung mabayaran ng Tsina ang lahat ng utang niya sa Pilipinas, siguradong makakatulong ito sa kinakaharap nating krisis sa ekonomiya," Hontiveros said.

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the senator filed PSR No. 369, calling on the Executive to exert legal and diplomatic efforts so that China would foot the bill for our COVID-19 response. This call came after Dr. Deo Onda, a scientist from the University of the Philippines' Marine Science Institute, estimated that the Philippines was losing around P33.1 billion annually from the damaged reef ecosystems in Panatag Shoal and Spratlys Islands due to China's reclamation activities in the area.

Onda further explained that the amount was determined using a baseline value of $353,429 or P18 million per hectare per year for coral reefs based on a study conducted by Elsevier, a Dutch company specializing in scientific, technical, and medical information and analytics.

"This will not be the first time for us to seek reparations. Japan paid our country for her destruction of Manila during World War II, and in more recent history, the United States of America also paid the Philippines P87 million, after the USS Guardian damaged Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea. May karapatan tayong maningil," Hontiveros explained.

The resolution also states that the government cannot tolerate the continuing harms to the environment, economy, and security brought about by China's incursions, and must explore available recources to hold China accountable, including a claim for damages to be filed with the Permanent of Court Arbitration.

"Our 2016 Arbitral Award clearly invalidated China's sweeping and expansive claims in the WPS. This is a case we won because of our dogged commitment to abide by international law and uphold the truth. It is only right that we pursue all options to make China pay," Hontiveros concluded.

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Note: Please see attached PSR No. 804

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