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Senators seek diplomatic end to maritime dispute

SENATE Majority Leader Emmanuel Joel Villanueva called on Malacañang to exert all legal and diplomatic measures to affirm the Philippines' sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

On Monday, Villanueva filed Resolution 980 to express the sense of the Senate «strongly condemning the unprovoked aggression, continued harassment, and illegal and dangerous actions» in the West Philippine Sea by the China Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM).

He said that on March 28, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced that he had directed concerned agencies to develop a «response and countermeasure package» amid the unabated acts of Chinese provocation against Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea.

«While the Senate supports the presidential directive (EO 57) to implement a response and countermeasure package, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of National Defense, and all other relevant government agencies and instrumentalities are urged to exhaust and pursue all the necessary mechanisms, well within our rights and as provided for by domestic and international law,» Villanueva said.

He also urged the executive department to «pursue such other diplomatic courses of action, as may be deemed necessary, to put an end to the continued aggression and illegal activities of China in the West Philippine Sea.»

Villanueva noted that on July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected China's expansive claims to historic and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the resources and maritime areas in the West Philippine Sea covered by its «nine-dash line.»

The court ruled that the claim contradicts the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).


Another senator, Maria Josefa Imelda «Imee» Marcos, urged the government to seek peaceful means to resolve its dispute with China without abandoning the country's rights in the WPS.

Marcos said, «Emotion rather than reason has prevailed in our maritime conflict with China and is leading us down a dangerous path that will cost us more than just Filipino pride.»

«There is no shame in pursuing peace. Whatever action that may put any Filipino in danger is a gross irresponsibility