News Release

Marine resource findings of environmental degradation in the West Philippine Sea to build stronger case vs China – PCG

The marine resource assessment result conducted by a scientific team in Pag-asa Island will be part of the evidence being gathered by the Justice Department to support its case buildup against China for environmental destruction and degradation, a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) official said Saturday.

“Well, for the findings of Dr. [Jonathan] Anticamara, this was already presented to the National Task Force West Philippine Sea. We’re just actually waiting for the official scientific study of Dr. Anticamara,” Commodore Jay Tarriela of the West Philippine Sea Transparency Office of the PCG said in a news forum in Quezon City.

“And then from the Philippine Coast Guard together with BFAR, since we are the lead agency in doing this research assessment in support of course of the University of the Philippines, we’re going to formally forward this to the NTF-WPS and then in NTF-WPS,” Tarriela added.

“As you’re aware, the Department of Justice is part of that interagency task force. So, most likely, the findings of Dr. Anticamara will also be forwarded to the Department of Justice and as what Sir Jay has mentioned, this can be used to support their case buildup against the People’s Republic of China,” he pointed out.

Dr. Anticamara of University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Biology and his team conducted the marine resource assessment in Pag-asa Cays 1, 2, 3 that provides scientific basis on the destruction of marine resources inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Tarriela accused China of causing environmental destruction and altering the sea features of the area, arguing that in terms of the number of vessels, China outnumbers the Philippines. Chinese vessels’ operation caused massive damage to coral reefs.

In addition, he said China has the experience and capability in doing all the reclamation in the South China Sea.

“So, if there is one country that we need to hold accountable dito sa damage ng environment na ito, sa ating coral reef dito sa cays, that will only be the People’s Republic of China if you were [to] ask me now, who is our suspect in doing illegal small island reclamation in the Cays 1, 2, 3, 4,” the PCG official said.

According to Atty. Jay Batongbacal of the UP College of Law-Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, the Philippines can follow up the previous findings in the arbitration against China for actively and deliberately destroying coral reefs as a result of its reclamation activities.

Such activities are violations of the international law because it contravenes obligation to preserve and protect the marine environment, he added.

“Iyong iba pa niyang aspeto na binabago na niya iyong facets on the ground ‘no, iba pa iyon ‘yung issue. Pero at the very least, itong destruction ng coral and deliberate alteration ng marine environment, puwedeng maging basehan iyon ng isa pang kaso na pa-follow up doon sa 2016 arbitration,” said Batongbacal.

“Mahalagang punto ‘to kasi nga noong time noong arbitration, hindi pa ‘yan napapansin pero after the arbitration, iyon na. Sa tingin natin, kumbaga iyong original na formation maaring dahil doon sa sedimentation na nagawa noong Subi Reef, kasi kinalawkaw nila iyong area, kumalat iyong mga sand doon or whatever material na hindi nalagay doon sa Subi Reef mismo,” he stressed. |PND