By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Francis ‘Tol’ N. Tolentino today stressed that becoming a State Party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will help strengthen the Philippines’ territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), as recognized and affirmed by the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
During Thursday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Tolentino called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to devise a mode to diplomatically assert the Philippines’ position in the WPS once the Senate concurs on the ratification of the TPNW and the country becomes a State Party.
According to Tolentino, under the treaty, a State Party has an obligation to, among others, make a declaration whether there are any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or in any place under its jurisdiction or control that are owned, possessed, or controlled by another State. Such declaration must be submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) not later than 30 days after the treaty enters into force for a State Party.
Tolentino said that if the Philippines becomes a State Party, it can inform the UN Secretary-General that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the man-made structures therein are capable to host nuclear armaments as military facilities.
The lawmaker believes that the Philippines has much to gain from becoming a State Party to ensure a regime of peace and nuclear-free region of amity and cooperation.
Although the TNPW will not fully eliminate the threat or use of nuclear weapons, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Igor Bailen noted that the treaty increases the stigma against nuclear weapons and puts international pressure on the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including China, and other nuclear weapon countries to relinquish those armaments. (AI/MTVN)