Senate of the Philippines

Zubiri to world legislators: Stand with Philippines on sea dispute

Bonz Magsambol

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Zubiri to world legislators: Stand with Philippines on sea dispute

File photo of Senate President Migz Zubiri

Angie de Silva/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) Senate President Migz Zubiri urges the International Parliamentarian Union to be 'facilitators of peace' during different wars happening across the globe

MANILA, Philippines – Addressing the International Parliamentarian Union (IPU), Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri appealed to fellow members of the global organization to stand with the Philippines as China continues to bully the country in the West Philippine Sea.

“In the West Philippine Sea, a number of geopolitical analysts have predicted that it could be a major flashpoint in the region. Let me emphasize that the Philippines has consistently adhered to international rules-based order, ensured freedom of navigation in the area and practiced restraint in dealing with the harassment and provocations of our neighbor in the north,” Zubiri said in his speech at the IPU General Debate in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday, March 24.

“It takes a community of nations to preserve and nurture peace, thus, we appeal to the international community to support and stand firm with us in promoting freedom of navigation and adherence to international rules-based order in the West Philippine Sea,” Zubiri appealed.

The Senate President’s address before the IPU came a day after the China Coast Guard (CCG) on Saturday, March 23, blasted water cannons against a Philippine resupply boat that was en route to the BRP Sierra Madre, a marooned ship that is the makeshift Philippine military outpost in Ayungin Shoal.

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The boat, the wooden Unaizah May 4, “sustained heavy damages at around 08:52 due to the continued blasting of water cannons from the CCG vessels,” the Armed Forces of the Philippines said in a press statement on Saturday.

Zubiri urged the IPU to be “facilitators of peace” during different wars happening across the globe.

“The raging strifes that dot the world underscore the mission that we parliamentarians should pursue on behalf of mankind. And that is to mount a campaign to pause war, to stop the bloodshed, and end the suffering of innocent civilians whose lives have been disrupted, but whose hopes for peace have not been dashed, by war,” Zubiri said.

“We in the IPU have a rich heritage that inspires confidence that, if united and determined, we can, as our predecessors had done, be facilitators of peace,” he added.

‘Have some decency’

In a separate statement on Wednesday, March 27, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros said that she was enraged by the recent event in the West Philippine Sea.

“This is urgent. Bugbog na ang ating mga tropa sa karagatan (Our troops are getting mauled in the ocean). Let us show our troops that we are also taking concrete steps to fight for them in all diplomatic and political avenues available to us,” she said.

“To China, you should be ashamed. Stop behaving like a criminal. Have some decency. It’s not too late to act like a dignified country,” Hontiveros added.

The Philippines has sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. It has the exclusive right to exploit and take care of resources in those areas. But China claims practically all of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, ignoring a 2016 Arbitral Ruling that deemed that claim invalid. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.