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Demand to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal hit
SENATORS Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva yesterday stressed that the Chinese government has no right to demand for the removal of BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Poe stressed that the 2016 arbitral ruling declared that Ayungin Shoal belongs to the Philippines and is well within our exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
“China has no right to dictate what we can do within our waters. Its recent statement telling us to remove BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal is another display of utter arrogance and aggression that we must not take sitting down,” Poe said.
The senator added that aside from diplomatic protests, the government should step up efforts in rallying our neighbors to form a united front against China in the South China Sea.
“Time and again, several nations have stood by us and shared our goal of ensuring peace, stability and harmony. Mutual respect must always be the cornerstone of our relationship with any nation,” she added.
Meanwhile, Villanueva stressed that trespassers have no right to issue an eviction order stating that Ayungin Shoal is part of the continental shelf that is 104 nautical miles from the archipelagic baseline of Palawan and thus within our country’s 200-nautical mile EEZ under UNCLOS.
“Our ship has been there since 1999. To argue otherwise is to suffer from historical amnesia and geographical ignorance,” he said.
“Sierra Madre, the ship, is a fixture as immovable as Sierra Madre, the mountain range. Eventually, the sea will be BRP Sierra Madre’s final resting place. But no way should it be the graveyard of our sovereignty,” Villanueva added.