Senator Win Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the Duterte administration to invoke the South China Sea Arbitration ruling in filing a formal protest against China as the regional superpower prepares to build a radar installation on the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.
“The favorable decision in the Philippines vs. China case is a potent tool we can use to enforce our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. It is our duty to invoke this ruling and take action before international legal institutions to contest any further acts of Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea,” Gatchalian said.
The South China Sea Arbitration, decided by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016, declared that similar Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea had violated the Philippines’s sovereign rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Gatchalian stressed that the Scarborough Shoal, which sits less than 200 kilometers off the coast of Zambales, is a militarily significant position that must be protected at all costs.
“Chinese military activity so close to the Philippine mainland is an alarming national security risk that must be immediately addressed,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian, a member of the Senate majority and an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, urged the President to re-think his hands-off approach to the issue.
“It is incorrect to say that there is nothing we can do to stop China. We still have several legal and diplomatic options, all of which must be exhausted in defending Philippine territory from foreign aggression. The Philippines should never allow itself to be bullied by anyone, no matter how big and powerful that bully might be.”