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Monday, June 24, 2024

Zubiri says China’s threats vs ‘trespassers’ violates international law

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Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has warned of a “deterioration of peace and order” in the area where China has threatened to arrest and detain for 60 days the supposed trespassers.

“There will be problem. Allies and claimants (to the disputed West Philippine Sea) will react. I think there will be complications here in the whole setup,” Zubiri cautioned on Friday.

He noted that the new threats of China is a clear violation of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), particularly on the freedom of navigation.

The Senate President said China should not restrict civilians who are fishing, passenger ships, transport ships, and cargo ships.

“And it is very clear that these areas — West Philippine Sea, South China Sea — these are ‘freedom of navigation lanes,’ in which anybody can freely navigate, even Vietnamese, Malaysians, or Filipinos — they can pass through it without restrictions. That’s very clear under UNCLOS,” related Zubiri, adding that China is also a signatory to UNCLOS.

To avert escalating tensions triggered by the new threats, the Senate leader suggested the Philippine government should take up this issue with the United Nations.

“We can bring this to the United Nations Security Council. We can take this up with the UN General Assembly,” he added.

If the illegal detention of our people will happen, Zubiri said we can file a formal complaint and protest.

He likewise questioned if that will trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the US and the Philippines.

“If they will detain ships of the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, which technically are government properties, owned by the Philippine government, will that now force the MDT to be implemented?” he asked.

Zubiri also admitted the Philippines lacks the capacity to fight back, saying it is “buwis buhay (life-threatening).”

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