The Philippines, through its Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), has revealed plans to review all incidents in the contentious West Philippine Sea since the 2016 arbitral award. The objective of this review is to gather evidence to support a possible case against China, a response to the latter's ongoing activity in the disputed waters. Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra emphasized the necessity for robust evidence capable of withstanding scrutiny in any tribunal.
The 2016 tribunal ruling at The Hague discredited China's expansive claims in the South China Sea, siding with the Philippines over areas of its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf claimed by Beijing.
The OSG plans to evaluate all potential legal avenues before recommending any action to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Department of Foreign Affairs. These incidents encompass recent ones involving destruction of coral reefs and floating barriers. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has indicated his plans to meet with the OSG to discuss possible responses to China's alleged destruction of coral reefs at Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal.
Remulla suggested that the Permanent Court of Arbitration would be the ideal venue for the case, considering its existing knowledge of China's actions. The court's history with the issue, dating back to the 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines, may offer a strategic advantage in a fresh case.
Efforts Towards Transparency and Sovereignty
This move by the Philippines reflects a commitment to transparency and a resolve to protect the country's sovereignty. The current administration under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has taken a notably stronger stance against China's activities in the West Philippine Sea. This shift is evident in the fact that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) now publicly reports the swarming of vessels within the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Exposing illicit activities in the West Philippine Sea has played a crucial role in raising public awareness and garnering support for the government's stance. This revelation sparked a surge in public awareness, which in turn bolstered support for the PCG and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their efforts to patrol the West Philippine Sea.
International Solidarity and Pressure
The Philippines is taking significant steps towards building a possible case against China for its continued actions in the disputed West Philippine Sea. The efforts to gather evidence and evaluate legal options reflect the country's commitment to protecting its sovereignty and upholding international law.