The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) said that the Philippine sovereign rights were violated by China as it illicitly claimed jurisdiction over the Spratly Islands.
In 2016, the tribunal officially declared that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the controversial West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), clearly invalidating China’s “nine-dash” demarcation line.
Documents released by the world court stated that China dishonored the Philippines by “(a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.”
Rappler, in one of its articles, disclosed a timeline of “skirmishes, standoffs and harassment” in the West Philippine Sea that have not only challenged Filipino administrators, but worse, devastated local fisherfolks.
In early 2011, China fired three shots at Philippine fishing boats in Jackson atoll.
A standoff between the two country’s Navy began a year after. The Philippine Navy deployed its fastest ship after spotting Chinese fishing vessels at Scarborough Shoal. China then warned Filipinos to leave the area by sending surveillance ships.
Jumping off to 2014, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel fired water cannons to drive away Philippines’ fishing vessels from the disputed Panatag Shoal. It was also during this year when Chinese troops blocked Filipino authorities en route to Ayungin Shoal to deliver food to the assigned military forces. China was later accused of executing reclamation work on the disputed island.
The Philippines officially claimed legal victory against China in 2016 but immediately the following year, it was reported that Chinese crews fired shots and chased off Filipino fishermen who were in the Union Banks.
The Chinese government has continued its massive reclamation projects and their bombers have also conducted takeoff and landing training in some parts of the island.
Just last year, Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana condemned the action of the Chinese fishing vessel for sinking its Filipino counterpart in a collision. The 22 Filipino fishermen on board the boat were left “to the mercy of the elements but were later rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
The Philippine government has already sought for proper investigation and diplomatic action in response to the said untoward incidents initiated by the Chinese.
Clearly, the argument over the resource-rich islands in the West Philippine Sea still remains despite the Philippines’ arbitral win but Filipinos should not tremble for they have stronger legal claims.