Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday said she welcomed the Department of Foreign Affairs’ filing of a diplomatic protest against China’s new Coast Guard Law allowing its coast guards to open fire at any vessel they consider intruders in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
The senator described the new law as “a provocation that threatens not only the lives and livelihood of our fisherfolk, but also peace and stability in the entire region.”
“This diplomatic protest is a critical step toward asserting our legal and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),” Hontiveros said.
“I commend Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin for finally taking action even after his initial hesitation, saying at first that the new law was ‘none of our business,’” she said.
“We need to continue asserting our triumph at the Hague, lest our inaction be construed as an abandonment of our claim under international law. We cannot sleep on our rights,” Hontiveros added.
The senator said that “perhaps, like Sec. Locsin, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also needs some time to reflect on the situation, instead of lawyering for China and downplaying the threat China’s blatant and heavy-handed disregard of international law poses to our national interests.”
“At this point, everyone but Malacanang seems to be aware that China seeks to replace the international rules based order embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with a regime anchored on Chinese economic and military power,” she said.
“Sec. Roque saying that the UNCLOS, a treaty China believes does not apply to its dispute with rival claimants in the WPS, already protects our fisherfolk from China’s incursions, is both naive and irresponsible,” Hontiveros said.
“Our backpedaling must stop. Filipinos deserve strong leadership in the face of Chinese pressure, not apologists for a foreign power. We should not give an inch. We are in the right. The international community recognizes this and stands with us,” she said.