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MANILA, Philippines – Panganiban (Mischief) Reef belongs to the Philippines. It is not disputed.
It is one of the 7 maritime features that China reclaimed in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Photos taken last year show China built a runway, two hangars, and two radomes for radar equipment, among other facilities, on the reef.
The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in July 2016 that the Philippines has sovereign rights over Mischief Reef.
It is a “low tide elevation” inside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines – located about about 130 nautical miles from mainland Palawan – that does not overlap with other maritime entitlements in the area.
Chinese occupation of Mischief Reef is a clear violation of the sovereign rights of the Philippines over the maritime feature, according to the court based in The Hague, Netherlands.
The same ruling declared nearby Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank as part of the Philippine EEZ.
Below are the sections of the ruling on Mischief Reef:
697. …the Tribunal has found that Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, the GSEC101 block, Area 3, Area 4, or the SC58 block all fall within areas where only the Philippines possesses possible entitlements to maritime zones under the Convention. The relevant areas can only constitute the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. Accordingly, the Philippines – and not China – possesses sovereign rights with respect to resources in these areas.
757. China has, through the operation of its marine surveillance vessels in tolerating and failing to exercise due diligence to prevent fishing by Chinese flagged vessels at Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal in May 2013, failed to exhibit due regard for the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to fisheries in its exclusive economic zone. Accordingly, China has breached its obligations under Article 58(3) of the Convention.
1037: China’s activities at Mischief Reef have since evolved into the creation of an artificial island. China has elevated what was originally a reef platform that submerged at high tide into an island that is permanently exposed. Such an island is undoubtedly “artificial” for the purposes of Article 60. It is equally clear that China has proceeded without receiving, or even seeking, the permission of the Philippines. Indeed, China’s conduct has taken place in the face of the Philippines’ protests. Article 60 is unequivocal in permitting only the coastal State to construct or authorise such artificial islands.
1043. …the Tribunal finds that China has, through its construction of installations and artificial islands at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines, breached Articles 60 and 80 of the Convention with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The Tribunal further finds that, as a low-tide elevation, Mischief Reef is not capable of appropriation.
The Philippines told the court China has prevented Filipino fishermen near Mischief Reef since 1995. It was the same year China started building “typhoon shelters” on the reef. By 1999, there were mutli-storey structions, communication equipment there, and a helipad.
Reclamation on Mischief Reef was reported in 2014, a year after the Philippines filed its case against China.
The international court said it doesn’t have jurisdiction to rule which state has sovereignty or sovereign rights over most of the other maritime features. – Rappler.com