Lawmakers urge DFA to take legal action on PHL claim in disputed areas

THE House Committee on Foreign Affairs will summon officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to brief the lawmakers on the legal actions they have taken with regard to the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal.

“I urged DFA to inform or report to us members of the House of Representatives on the actions it already took or is planning to take,” said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro), author of House Resolution 2634.

Rodriguez said the DFA should take all necessary diplomatic and legal actions in order to protect the sovereignty and defend territorial claims in the disputed areas.

Rodriguez said recent developments at the West Philippine Sea show that China still continues to send various sea vessels to the area including at least 20 fishing boats, only five nautical miles from the Philippine occupied Pag-asa Island, which are also reportedly escorted by frigates and maritime surveillance ships.

Rodriguez said China has also appointed military officers in its garrison in the West Philippine Sea including Senior Colonel Cai Xihong as commander and Senior Colonel Liao Chaoyi as the political commissar of the newly-established military base in its newly
established city of Sansha on an island in the disputed area.

It was reported that the Philippine government had formally invited China to bring their claims to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

The DFA also called on China to respect the Philippines’ sovereignty and sovereign rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over the Panatag Shoal and its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal are being claimed by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan as these islands, reefs, and coral outcrops are believed to be rich in oil and gas and these overlapping claims have long been feared as Asia’s next source of tension which could lead to armed conflict.

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