Military and economic facilities should be established in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) to stop China’s aggression and destruction of the country’s natural resources.
Caloocan City (Metro Manila) Rep. Edgar Erice made the call on Thursday under his House Resolution 2136, which urges the Philippine government to initiate formal talks with the United States, Japan and other interested countries for the establishment of military and economy facilities in the Kalayaan Group of Islands.
Erice said the Philippine government should take action because China’s massive and unrestrained reclamations of islands at Kalayaan–which is located within the country’s exclusive economic zone as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (Unclos)–has resulted in the destruction of some 121 hectares of coral reef systems equivalent to economic losses to coastal states at $100 million annually.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said China’s activities are causing irreversible and widespread damage to biodiversity and ecological balance in the West Philippine Sea.
“It is high time for the Philippines to initiate the formation of an alliance with other interested countries that will function not only as a deterrent to the expansionist stance of China but also as a mechanism for the sustained development of the Kalayaan Group of Islands that will also provide employment opportunities to Filipinos,” Erice’s resolution read.
China is claiming the whole West Philippine Sea and the islands there with the nine-dash line theory based on improvised ancient maps.
The Philippines has brought conflicting claims to islands in the sea to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas but China has rejected arbitration to settle territorial issues.
There were two incidents in the last four years where China threw its weight in the West Philippine Sea.
Chinese warships harassed Philippine vessels in June 2011, one of which fired warning shots at Philippine fishing boats in Quirino or Jackson atoll, an islet off Palawan in the disputed islands and demanded them to leave the claimed Chinese territory.
In March 2014, Chinese frigates prevented Philippine vessels from carrying much needed
supplies and additional personnel to a grounded vessel in Ayungin Shoal that has served as Manila’s military outpost in the area for the last 15 years.
“Despite the demonstrated commitment of the Philippines to resort to peaceful means in settling the territorial dispute, China has obstinately refused to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal of the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas,” the resolution said.
“Efforts at amicable settlement of the said territorial dispute among the claimant countries have consistently failed. The act of China in bullying small countries such as the Philippines into submission and completely disregarding their rights under international law is completely untenable,” it added.