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Philippines mulls filing case vs China over collision

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may file a case against China before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) over last Sunday’s incident in Ayungin Shoal wherein a Chinese coast guard ship made a “provocative” maneuver and hit a Filipino vessel carrying provisions for a military outpost on BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

National Security Council (NSC) assistant director Jonathan Malaya said filing a case before the ITLOS is among the many options on the table for the Philippine government, as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have listed infractions committed by the Chinese to hold them accountable.

But it would be up to President Marcos and the Cabinet’s security, justice and peace cluster to decide if a case can be filed, based on results of ongoing investigations.

“We can file a case in the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea… Yesterday it was made clear to us by DFA and PCG that there are violations made by China on the collision regulations, so we have a recourse there,” Malaya told radio dzBB, referring to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea of 1972.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss (other options). We will have to wait for the announcements of the National Security Adviser or the Secretary of National Defense,” he added.

Malaya stressed that the evidence being gathered by the PCG and other government agencies would be used to compel China to pay for damages.

“I think it’s clear who is at fault there. It’s not true that the BRP Cabra turned around. It’s not true that Unaiza May 2 was the one that rammed the Chinese vessel. All these narratives are useless because we have witnesses and videos from the media – an independent body not within government control,” he said.

“Clearly, there is intent. The Chinese side did this with clear intent to prevent and block our ships, which led to a collision, so all evidence will be stacked to bolster our position,” he added.

In an interview with dzRH, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the Chinese intentionally hitting a Philippine vessel last Sunday was