Government vows protection of ‘South China Sea’ territories



The Philippine government yesterday vowed it would protect its territories in the disputed South China Sea, following a Supreme Court order to preserve marine environments in the area.

The court order was prompted by a petition filed by environmental activists and fishermen alleging the Philippine government had failed to act against Chinese incursions and destructive activities in the three areas in the South China Sea. The writ of kalikasan (nature) issued Friday covers Scarborough Shoal, Second Thomas Shoal and Mischief Reef.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration was “duty-bound” to prevent violations of environmental laws in Philippine territories, even without an order from the Supreme Court.
“We stress that the essence of such a writ of kalikasan, which is the protection of the marine ecosystem of the West Philippine Sea, is already a top concern and agenda of the government,” he said referring to the South China Sea by its Philippine name. “We assure the nation that this administration is committed to protect the sovereignty of our country and the protection of our marine environment against any and all who will attempt to assault or violate them,” he added.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in marine and mineral resources.

Other claimants are the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

In July 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing has no legal or historical basis for its so-called “nine-dash line,” which demarcates its claims to almost the entire South China Sea.