Photo courtesy by GeoCurrents
By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — FIVE years since the arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea
favoring the country, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the
people must continue to assert their rights over their waters, which
is key to addressing hunger, poverty, and high power cost.
The senator pointed out that the waters of the West Philippine Sea are
home to vast marine resources, from oil and gas reserves deep beneath
its surface, to the fishes and other seafood that could support the
people’s needs as well as provide a source of income to Filipino
“May mga banta na ng brownouts, ng linggo-linggong pagtaas ng presyo
ng langis, at ang gutom na kinakaharap ng milyon-milyong Pilipino. Ang
sagot sa lahat ng ito ay ang responsableng paggamit ng yaman ng ating
karagatan (There are the threats of looming brownouts, weekly
spiraling oil prices, and the hunger plaguing millions of Filipinos.
The answers to all these could be found if we harness responsibly the
wealth of our waters),” Pangilinan said.
He stressed that the arbitral ruling is an important legal victory
that has the force and effect of a law and recognized by the
“The international tribunal ruling seals our stake on the disputed
waters. Pero kailangan pa rin nating igiit ang ating mga karapatan at
alagaan ang ating teritoryo. Dapat nagkakaisa tayo bilang isang bansa
(But, we have to continue asserting our rights and safeguarding our
territory. We have to be united as a nation),” he said.
Pangilinan lamented China’s continued violation of the arbitral ruling
that invalidated its extensive nine-dash claim over the South China
Over the years, it continues to send fishermen, coast guard ships, and
maritime militia ships to the part of the West Philippine Sea that is
the critical waterway within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
He lauded the Philippine Coast Guard and Filipino fishermen patrolling
portions of the waters and bravely standing up against the giant ships
“Kahit na binubully o hina-harass ang mga mangingisda natin, tuloy
lang sila sa pag-giit ng kanilang kalayaan na mamalakaya at kumita
para sa pamilya nila. Hindi sila dapat pinagkakaitan ng talaga namang
atin (Despite the bullying and harassment against our fishermen, they
remain relentless in asserting their freedom to sail and earn their
livelihood for their families. They should not be deprived of the
resources that are ours),” Pangilinan said.
“Dapat may kalayaang maglayag sa ating exclusive economic zone. Ito
ang isang paraan para mapatupad ang Hague ruling (There must be
freedom of navigation in our exclusive economic zone. This is one way
of enforcing the ruling),” he said.
Aside from its oil potential and resources, Pangilinan echoed
scientists in saying that the West Philippine Sea may also hold the
key to biomedical breakthroughs. It can also help in studies about
ecosystem changes to measure the human impact on the environment.
“Nagbibigay pag-asa ang yaman ng West Philippine Sea na maiahon tayong
mga Pilipino sa mga problema natin. Hindi maaaring alisin sa atin ito
(The resources of the West Philippine Sea offers hope of alleviating
the Filipinos from their woes and this should not be taken away from
us),” Pangilinan said. (ai/mtvn)