Philippine Congress probe into China Sea row urged

February 05, 2014 - 8:42:18 am
MANILA: Three partylist congressmen have filed a resolution, urging the House committee on Foreign Affairs to find diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the brewing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea with China.

Bayan Muna Reps Neri Colminares and Carlos Isagani Zarate, and ACT Teachers Antonio Tinio said the settlement of the issue should be done without the meddling of the United States.

In House Resolution 671, the lawmakers called on the Committee on Foreign Affairs to conduct an inquiry on China’s New Sea Rules. They cited that on January 1, 2014, Hainan, a southern Chinese island province, implemented new rules that require foreign fishermen to seek permission from Chinese regional authorities before venturing out into the disputed West Philippines Sea.

They said the  Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying the new Chinese policy was a “gross violation” of the United Nation Convention on the Laws of the Sea, the international law that the Philippines invoked in taking its dispute with China over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) to the UN for arbitration in January last year.

“According to the DFA, China’s new fishing rules are contrary to the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” legislators said. They also noted that the fishing rules do not outline penalties, but the requirements are similar to a 2004 national law that says boats entering Chinese territory without permission can have their catch and fishing equipment seized and face fines of up to $82,000.

The resolution states that the country has territorial claims over parts of the Spratly group of islands located within the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, as stipulated in the UNCLOS, which stipulates that the coastal state has “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters” 200 nautical miles from its coast.

They noted that the coastal state will also have jurisdiction over “the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures; marine scientific research; and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.” HR 671 states that the “United States is using the heightening territorial disputes between the Philippines and China to justify increasing military presence and interference in the Philippines and in Asia, contain and counter China’s growing power and intensify US imperialist plunder and hegemony.”

The Philippine Star