Multilateral patrol in WPS pressed

August 19, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 204 views

PALAWAN Representative Edward Hagedorn has filed a House resolution urging the Philippine government to “take appropriate action” in securing the West Philippine Sea (WPS) through the conduct of joint multilateral maritime patrols.

Hagedorn made the proposal after some Philippine vessels that were on resupply and rotation mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal were water cannoned by members of the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) on August 5.

The incident was the latest in a series of “harassment and aggressive actions” by CCG against Filipino fisherfolk and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the WPS.

In House Resolution No. 1201, Hagedorn said officials from the Philippines and the United States have repeatedly stated their intention to conduct a joint maritime patrol in the WPS “for the protection of the Philippines’ sovereign rights, and the maintenance of regional stability and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea (SCS).”

Aside from this, Hagedorn said the Philippine government should also conduct a joint multilateral maritime patrol with several like-minded and allied States, which “will be seen as a stronger and more resolute initiative” in asserting the sovereign rights of the Philippines and deterring unlawful aggression and harassment.

This would also enhance regional and international cooperation which would lead to a more collective response toward security challenges and transnational crimes, such as illegal fishing and piracy, the solon explained.

“There is now an imminent need to shift to a more definitive and concrete action to assert the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the WPS, deter further harassments, and to uphold and preserve the freedom of navigation and overflight in the SCS,” the resolution read.

The resolution cited the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), customary international law, and the 1987 Philippine Constitution in seeking the conduct of joint multilateral maritime patrol in the WPS.

Following the August 5 incident, the Philippine government summoned China’s ambassador and filed a strongly worded diplomatic protest over the CCG’s action.

The Senate has also adopted a resolution that “strongly condemns” the continued harassment of CCG and militia vessels against Filipino fisherfolk and the PCG.

Members of the international community, including the US, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, and the European Mission in Manila, have all expressed “serious concerns” over the incident, which appear to undermine the Philippines’ sovereign rights.