By Raadee S. Sausa
MANILA — The Philippine government should educate its citizens on the country’s arbitral victory against China on the South China Sea and internationalize the development, a multi-sectoral group said over the weekend.
The Citizens Alliance for Life and the Law (CALL) of the Sea has petitioned the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), to include in the high school and college curriculum the 2016 arbitral award that invalidates China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, Greg Atienza, executive director of Soul Philippines said.
“This is a long fight. The curriculum of our education should include these rights. If we don’t know our rights, then what are we fighting for?” he added.
The world will mark on July 12 the fifth anniversary of the landmark award, which President Rodrigo Duterte shelved in favor of economic benefits from China. It is regarded as among the important legacies of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who passed away on June 24.
Atienza said lawmakers are also urged to pass the necessary legislation to globalize the exploration and development of the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the portion of the South China Sea over which the Philippines has sovereign rights.
“So that we can have as much multilateral participation in the West Philippine Sea as one means by which there will be more stability. For example, padamihin ang Malampaya [sign more projects like the Malampaya],” he said.
The Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy are also enjoined to accompany fisherfolks so that they don’t get chased away by Chinese vessels, Atienza added.
The group was formed on June 22, two days before the death of Aquino, whose administration brought China to the arbitral tribunal.
Atienza said that on July 12, some 50 groups will gather online to start their “education campaign for the general citizenry.”
The aim is to expand the “unified action to defend the West Philippine Sea,” to include forming an alliance with international counterparts “for the enforcement of the award.”
For his part, Rico Domingo of the Philippine Bar Association (PBA), moreover, said that while there is no precedent as regards the enforcement of the arbitral ruling, a case by Nicaragua against the US in the 1980s can serve as a model.
A unit in the PBA is studying this as they plan to draft a blueprint for the enforcement and submit it to the next administration for its consideration.
“We’ve said that the Filipinos can take a stand on this and do intensive research to have a blueprint for our country, for the future generation,” Domingo said. (AI/MTVN)