DFA urged to file UN resolution vs China

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By John Victor D. Ordonez, Reporter

A PHILIPPINE senator has called on the Department Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file a resolution before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly condemning China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

In a statement, Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said the resolution should call on China to stop “blatant violence” in Philippine waters.

“I also hope the DFA can gather our neighbors in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam and Malaysia, to stand with the Philippines as we face common security threats and assaults by China,” she added.

A Chinese coast guard vessel at the weekend fired a water cannon at a Philippine boat trying to bring food and other supplies to a grounded World War II-era ship at Second Thomas Shoal.

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy helicopter also harassed a team of Filipino scientists at Thitu Island by hovering at a close distance to one of its sand bars, the Philippines said on Tuesday.

Manila later lodged a protest and said the boat was heavily damaged and some crew injured. It then summoned China’s envoy in Manila to protest “aggressive actions” in the South China Sea.

The Philippines will make a significant move on China’s continued aggression at sea, National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya told the ABS-CBN news Channel on Wednesday.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is weighing the recommendations of the council at a high-level meeting at the presidential palace, he added.

Mr. Malaya also warned of a possible foreign interference during the 2025 midterm elections in the Philippines in the form of cyber-attacks.

Beijing has warned Manila to act cautiously and seek dialogue, reiterating that the resupply vessels had trespassed into Chinese territory.

“Let us show our troops that we are also taking concrete steps to fight for them in all diplomatic and political avenues available to us,” Ms. Hontiveros said.

In a separate statement, Senate Majority Floor Leader Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said he would sponsor a resolution before the Senate floor calling on the DFA to update the chamber on state efforts to deter Chinese aggression in the waterway.

“This latest incident, as well as all other aggressions of China towards our countrymen, is totally inhumane, illegal and barbaric,” he said. “We will file and sponsor a resolution calling on the DFA to take all necessary actions to stop these incidents.”

Tensions between the Philippines and China have worsened in the past year as China’s coast guard continues to block Philippine resupply missions to Second Thomas Shoal.

The shoal is about 200 kilometers from the Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1,000 kilometers from China’s nearest major landmass, Hainan Island.

At the Inter-Parliamentary Union General Debate on March 24, Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri called on the international community to stand with the Philippines in ensuring that international law and freedom of navigation are upheld in the South China Sea.

‘GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT’“Let me emphasize that the Philippines has consistently adhered to the international rules-based order, ensured freedom of navigation in the area and practiced restraint in dealing with the harassment and provocations of our neighbor in the north,” he said in a speech, a copy of which was sent to reporters on Thursday via Viber.

The Philippine Senate has approved a bill that seeks to set up maritime zones and territories in the South China Sea and another that aims to attract investments in local defense equipment manufacturing.

Also on Thursday, former presidential spokesman Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. said the government of ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte had entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” with China not to bring construction and repair materials to BRP Sierra Madre, the dilapidated ship at Second Thomas Shoal.

In a Viber message to BusinessWorld, he said the deal involved keeping the “status quo” at the shoal, but did not entail the BRP Sierra Madre’s removal.

The Philippines intentionally grounded the ship in 1999 to assert its sovereignty.

“Since it’s not in writing and not a treaty, it may not bind the administration of President Marcos,” Mr. Roque said.

In a statement on March 23, Chinese Coast Guard spokesman Gan Yu accused the Philippines of transporting construction materials to the grounded ship.

The DFA did not immediately reply to a WhatsApp question whether resupply missions involve bringing building materials to the shoal.

A five-member United Nations-backed arbitral court in 2016 ruled China had violated Philippine sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by building artificial islands and failing to prevent its citizens from fishing in the zone.

“It takes a community of nations to preserve and nurture peace, thus, we appeal to the international community to support and stand firm with us in promoting freedom of navigation and adherence to an international rules-based order in the West Philippine Sea,” Mr. Zubiri said.