Not all Filipinos feel the impact of the territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea but some of our brothers and sisters struggle in putting food in their tables due of it — and this, I believe, must be enough to make a stand.
The Philippines and China’s territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea continues to live for decades now. Despite the arbitrary tribunal siding PH in 2016, China has visibly not surrendered its claim over the marine resources-rich bodies of water. Worst, the Chinese government is becoming more and more assertive building artificial islands in the Spratlys.
While the Filipinos want to push for a diplomatic resolution of the territorial dispute, China’s activities are damaging the ecosystem in the West Philippine Sea in the process. The same ecosystem that is the source of livelihood of countless Filipinos who rely on the rich marine resources of the disputed islands.
A 2020 data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) show that around 324,312 metric tons of aquatic products or 7% of the total annual fisheries production of the country in a year are from WPS. Its coral reefs also make up a significant part of the total reef area of the country. Furthermore, the United States Geological Survey in 2013 also stated that 11 billion of barrels of oil come from the disputed bodies of water. It is also a sufficient source of natural gas as per the Recto Bank.
A lot of Filipinos are dependent on what the West Philippine Sea produces. While you and I can sleep comfortably in our homes and eat at least thrice a day, there are Filipino families who can barely put food in their tables. They also do not just battle poverty and scarcity of food resources but also security. Several incidents of Filipino fisherfolks being intimidated by Chinese authorities in the disputed islands have been reported.
The Chinese government asserted the “nine-dash line” rule in its claim over the West Philippine Sea. In the 2016 decision of the arbitral tribunal, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) overrode the rule of China. However, even years after the tribunal’s decision, Malacañang admitted that the West Philippine Sea is still controlled by China.
Although China is not recognizing the decision of the arbitral ruling saying it has no binding force, the results clearly placed the Philippines on a higher ground. However, while our government does not assert our rights on the West Philippine Sea, the Chinese government will surely continue to treat and benefit from the islands like it is their own — causing disadvantages to many Filipinos on the other side of the spectrum. This is a significant push as to why Filipinos must Fight for the West Philippine Sea. We are not only protecting what is ours, we are also guarding the welfare of our fellows.
With every month that passes without the PH government acting on the dispute, more and more Chinese activities and structures may be launched. Our silence will surely hint us about what the future holds, isn’t it?
Disclaimer: The content of the article posted above is a sole opinion of the writer and does not represent the whole media company. Also, the citations provided are based on the information deemed as facts by the different legit sources and contribute to the basis of the making of the whole viewpoint. The writer does not, in any form, intend to create inacurrate understanding of the topic or influence the readers instead, express one’s viewpoint in a formal manner.