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Legarda Welcomes Ruling on West Phl Sea Case, Laments Destruction of Marine Env’t in Contested Waters

July 13, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda welcomed the decision of the International Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) favoring the Philippines on the West Philippine Sea issue.

 

“I congratulate the legal team of our country for preparing a very well researched case with the International Tribunal of the PCA. I welcome the impartial, authoritative decisions rendered by the Tribunal and can only hope that these will serve as guideposts for the parties in this dispute,” said Legarda.

 

The Senator said she hopes all parties concerned will uphold international law, but stressed that the issue of territory and sovereignty can only be fully resolved through meaningful multi-stakeholder dialogue and the cooperation of China.

 

However, Legarda raised concerns over the destruction of the marine environment in the contested waters and hoped that such activities harmful to the marine ecosystems will be stopped immediately.

 

Legarda said, “Our interest in protecting the marine environment stems not only from territorial concerns but also from our collective responsibility to conserve and ensure the sustainable use of our marine resources.”

 

In its ruling, the Tribunal took note of the effects of China’s land reclamation and construction of artificial islands at seven features in the Spratly Islands.

 

It said, “China had caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened, or endangered species.”

 

The Tribunal likewise stated that Chinese fishermen have been harvesting endangered marine species such as sea turtles, coral, and giant clams on a “substantial scale” using methods that are harmful to the coral reef system in the West Philippine Sea. Chinese authorities knew about these but “had not fulfilled their obligations to stop such activities.”