By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed a resolution declaring July 12
as National West Philippine Sea Victory Day, in commemoration of the
Philippines’ 2016 triumph at the Hague, and in honor of the efforts of
former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III administration in
securing this landmark legal victory.
“PNoy is the father of our 2016 victory at The Hague. If not for his
unwavering commitment to put the Philippines first, we would not have
been awarded a landmark legal decision in international law, which
established our credibility in the global arena. Nang dahil sa
tagumpay natin sa The Hague, buo ang loob ng international community
na kumampi sa Pilipinas sa bawat pagmamalabis ng Tsina,” Hontiveros
said upon filing Proposed Senate Resolution No. 762.
The resolution states that after Chinese vessels began excluding
Filipino fisherfolk from their traditional fishing grounds in Panatag
Shoal and other parts of the WPS, it was President Benigno Simeon
Aquino III who led the Philippine government in initiating arbitration
proceedings against the People’s Republic of China before the
Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands, to uphold
the country’s sovereign rights in the WPS.
“PNoy was a true patriot. Even when the Philippines was going against
the Goliath that is China, he pursued the case merely on the principle
that it was the right thing to do. He would often say ‘the Filipino is
worth fighting for,’ and this particular fight is undisputed proof
that he kept his word,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros added that having a day to remember and celebrate this win
is also a way to counter mis- and disinformation that deliberately
diminishes our 2016 victory.
“Marami ang nagmamaliit sa tagumpay na ito. Marami rin ang mga fake
news na nakikita natin na kesyo si PNoy daw ang dahilan kung bakit
nawala sa atin ang ating mga teritoryo. Let’s stop all these lies once
and for all through correctly remembering his leadership,” Hontiveros
PSR No. 762 also details that the WPS may contain up to 55.1 trillion
cubic feet of natural gas and 5.4 billion barrels of oil. Hontiveros
said this is “an abundant source of energy with the potential to
secure the energy security and independence of the Philippines for
at least the next generation of Filipinos.”
The WPS is also a traditional fishing ground of Filipino fisherfolk,
with an annual fish yield of 5 million tons sustaining the economies
of coastal communities on the western coasts of Luzon and Palawan.
“Napakayaman ng WPS pero hindi ito common knowledge para sa
napakaraming kababayan natin. Celebrating a National WPS Day will
enable Filipinos to understand and know more about the importance of
fighting for the WPS. Kung taon-taon nating mapaparangalan ang
kahalagahan ng WPS, mas maisasapuso din natin ang ating karapatan sa
ating sariling karagatan,” Hontiveros said.
“Considering the unresolved territorial dispute between the
Philippines and China, which continues to prevent and harass Filipino
fisherfolk from exercising their traditional fishing rights in the
area, it is essential that the spirit of the country’s landmark legal
victory in the Hague be kept alive in the hearts of our people through
a special day of remembrance. Ito din ay para hindi natin malimutang
magbigay pugay kay PNoy, na siyang naging daan para tunay na tumindig
sa Tsina. Sana sa pamamagitan ng pag-alala sa pamumuno ni PNoy, ang
inumpisahan niyang laban ay maipagpapatuloy ng mga henerasyong susunod
pa,” Hontiveros concluded. (ai/mtvn)