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‘Sue China anew for marine, reef destruction’

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The Philippine government should sue China anew, this time for damages due to the destruction of Escoda Shoal and Rozul Reef, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Tuesday.

“The next arbitration case that we are recommending is for the following purposes: To sue China for damages because they destroyed Escoda Shoal and Rozul Reef,” Carpio said in an interview over dzBB.

He said the two features are within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine Coast Guard earlier accused China of building an artificial island in Escoda Shoal, also called Sabina Shoal.

The PCG said the dumping of crushed corals near the shoal may be in preparation for China’s reclamation activities.

Escoda Shoal is much closer to Palawan than the contested Ayungin Shoal.

China, however, denied it is conducting reclamation activities on Escoda Shoal.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the accusation as “sheer rumor” and an “irresponsible claim designed to vilify China and mislead the international community.”

“China urges the Philippines to stop making irresponsible remarks, face up to the facts and return to the right track of properly handling maritime disputes through negotiation and consultation,” he said.

PCG spokesman Jay Tarriela said the agency already deployed a ship to the shoal — a meet-up point for ships carrying out resupply missions to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin — to prevent China from its reclamation activity.

Last year, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the Department of Justice is recommending the filing of cases against China following reports of missing corals in Rozul Reef.

Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano said the DOJ and the Office of the Solicitor General continue to coordinate and discuss the issue.

He said recommendations will then be submitted to President Marcos once these are available.

Carpio, who was part of the team of legal experts that initiated the 2013 arbitration case against China, also asked the government conduct joint patrols with the United States and other like-minded states to protect the WPS.

“If we do not monitor this, the maritime militia will enter and establish a new island. There should be a constant presence,” Carpio said.

In 2016, Manila won the case in a landmark ruling after the arbitral court invalidated China’s nine-dash line claims, and upheld the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

China, however, refuses to recognize the arbitral ruling.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline Carpio urges government to file new cases against China over Escoda Shoal, Rozul Reef destruction


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