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MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will pass a “strongly worded resolution” urging the government to bring China’s harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said on Tuesday, July 18.
“Next week, this coming SONA (State of the Nation Address), we will pass a strongly worded resolution of our disgust, our frustration, and anger as shown by Pulse Asia surveys on the repeated incursion of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” Zubiri said when asked about the pending resolutions in the Senate.
The Senate President said that he supports the resolution filed by Deputy Minority Leader Senator Risa Hontiveros urging the Department of Foreign Affairs to request the UNGA to call on China to cease its harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
Hontiveros filed the resolution on June 19, a month before the seventh anniversary of the historic 2016 Hague ruling that invalidated China’s claim over the entire South China Sea, and upheld the Philippines’ rights over its 200-nautical mile EEZ under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Zubiri said he was open to amending or just adopting the opposition senator’s resolution.
Zubiri said that in passing the resolution, the Senate will become the voice of the people. He cited a Pulse Asia Research Incorporated survey that showed 75% of Filipinos in favor “of strengthening the military ties between the US and the Philippines” amid the continued tension in the West Philippine Sea.
“I’m not trying to pick a fight. Gusto ko lang ipakita na galit na galit na ang ating mga kababayan (I just want to show the outrage of our fellow Filipinos),” he said.
Zubiri also echoed the long-held observation that China’s repeated incursions in the West Philippine Sea reflected a “creeping invasion.” In February, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo described China’s harassment as a “daily situation” for Filipino fishermen and Philippine Coast Guard vessels.
“I find it totally illogical for them to conclude that it is their territory. If we don’t do a pushback as a nation, baka bukas pagising natin, nandoon na sila sa El Nido, Palawan at i-claim na nila ‘yan (maybe when we wake up tomorrow, they are there in El Nido, Palawan and they will also claim it as theirs),” he said.
Responding to questions, Zubiri defended President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for his seemingly lukewarm response to Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
“He is familiar with the issue. As a matter fact, ilang beses na niyang tinawag ang (he had summoned several times) the Chinese ambassador to Malacañang to explain what’s going on,” Zubiri said.
He added that the President may even bring up the issue in his second SONA. – Rappler.com