Because our forefathers fought off powerful invaders, we who are beneficiaries of their sacrifices and victories ought to do no less. We must exhaust all possible means, without resorting to war, to conserve and develop our patrimony.
This is the gist of an open letter of the Citizens Alliance for Life and the Law of the Sea (CALL) calling on all of us to “summon the patriotic and nationalist spirit that is imbued in us, and confront this formidable challenge to our sovereignty and sovereign rights” in the face of persistent Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Here’s part of the open letter of the Alliance for Life and the Law of the Sea which is comprised of multi-sectoral organizations that banded together to uphold our country’s interests in the WPS:
We call on our fellow Filipinos and national leaders to speak with one clear, consistent, and emphatic voice on the enforcement of the historic Arbitral Award, promulgated in the South China Sea Arbitration and decided by the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).
The Arbitral Award (AWARD) recognized the sovereign rights of the Philippines to exclusively explore and develop the natural resources in the EEZ and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). It declared baseless the 9-dash line claim of the People’s Republic of China (PROC) that it owns practically the entire South China Sea, including over 3/4 of the WPS, and determined that PROC violated the UNCLOS and the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the WPS by building several large artificial islands with huge infrastructure like airport and seaports, massive fishing, bullying of Filipino fishermen, destruction of the environment, and conducting maritime surveys, among others.
Larger than the entire land area of the Philippines, WPS includes part of the South China Sea which extends 200 nautical miles from the entire western shoreline of the Philippine Archipelago. WPS is rich in fish, oil, gas and other mineral and aquatic resources worth several trillions of dollars when explored and developed — patrimony that can benefit present and future generations of Filipinos who alone are entitled to it.
To date, however, almost five years from the Award’s date, PROC, an UNCLOS signatory like the Philippines, obstinately refuses to recognize and follow the AWARD. PROC continues to disrespect our national dignity, insult our officials who protest against its violations in the WPS, and haul away millions of tons of fish from our EEZ that should have been the rightful catch of our fishermen and much needed meals at the tables of impoverished Filipino families. PROC continues to destroy marine and aquatic resources, and puts national and international peace and security in peril as it threatens to build more artificial islands with military installations equipped with high-powered weapons including missiles, aimed at controlling the entire South China Sea.