CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Filipinos will hold a global day of prayer on Aug. 21 and global rallies on July 24 in front China Embassies in all major cities where Filipino Diaspora live.
Filipino American Loida Nicolas Lewis said the twin global actions are aimed to blunt the aggressive quest of China to occupy territories in the Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea) that are clearly part of the Philippine domain.
Buoyed by a United States Senate resolution, “reaffirming the strong support of the U.S. for the peaceful resolution of territorial, sovereignty, and jurisdictional disputes in the Asia-Pacific maritime domains,” the U.S. Pinoys For Good Governance (USP4GG) will also hold protest rallies at the United Nations in New York, New York and at China embassies on July 24.
Lewis said the protest rallies on July 24 mark the first anniversary of China’s establishment last year of the Sansha City Prefecture that extends China’s jurisdiction over two million square kilometers of the Philippine Western Sea that includes those islands and reefs in the Spratlys that are within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.
She said the rallies will decry China’s threatened invasion of the Philippines’ Ayungin Reef, which is located 105 nautical miles from Palawan.
Under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the EEZ of a country extends from the edge of territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers; 230 miles).
“China seized the Philippines’ Mischief Reef in 1994, then our Scarborough Shoal last year,” according to Lewis, the national chair of USP4GG and former national chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). “This year, China is set to invade and occupy the Ayungin Reef. This is unacceptable!”
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) protested the creation of the Sansha prefecture when it was formed after learning that its jurisdiction covered the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys, which “is an integral part of the Philippine territory falling under the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan province.”
“Sansha City has been a subject of a Philippine protest as its administrative jurisdiction encompasses Philippine territory and maritime zones in the West Philippine Sea,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario said that the creation of the Sansha prefecture was in “gross violation” of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), a 10-year-old document that aims to deter use of force and instead promote peace and self-restraint among countries claiming resource-rich territories in the South China Sea, including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines.
Beijing announced that beginning January 1, 2013, Chinese naval ships from the Sansha prefecture would begin patrolling the waters in the South China Sea under its jurisdiction.
PHILIPPINES FILES UNCLOS CLAIM
On January 22, 2013, the Philippines formally filed its claim against China before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal under Article 287 and Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which both the Philippines and China are signatories. The Philippines asserted that China’s “nine-dash line” claim that encompasses virtually the entire South China Sea/West Philippine Sea is contrary to UNCLOS and is thus unlawful.
The Philippines also charged that “within the maritime area encompassed by the nine-dash line, China has also laid claim on, occupied and built structures on certain submerged banks, reefs and low tide elevations that do not qualify as islands under UNCLOS, but are parts of the Philippine continental shelf, or the international seabed and has interfered with the lawful exercise by the Philippines of its rights within its legitimate maritime zones, as well as to the aforementioned features and their surrounding waters.”
CHINESE SHIPS IN AYUNGIN
On May 8, 2013, three Chinese naval ships were spotted by Philippine maritime surveillance vessels surrounding the Ayungin Reef (Second Thomas Shoal), which is located just 105 nautical miles from Palawan, well within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. The Ayungin Reef is guarded by a Philippine marine detachment on board the BRP Sierra Madre ship that is permanently moored in the Ayungin Reef to protect it.
“There were five to eight Chinese fishing vessels that entered our reef conducting surveys inside our Ayungin Reef. Our latest report is that the Chinese were unloading big ropes and planting metal structures on our reef,” a Philippine Navy officer disclosed.
“We will not allow China to establish a blockade to prevent the Philippine Navy from replenishing the Philippine marine base at Ayungin with personnel and materials,” declared Ted Laguatan, spokesman of the USP4GG. “We support Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s vow to defend Ayungin to the last soldier standing.”
The Ayungin Reef is considered the gateway to the Recto Bank, which the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates to contain 2.5 billion barrels of oil and 25.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In his July 25, 2011 State of the Nation Address (SONA), Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III declared: “What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue.”
SENATE RESOLUTION 167
A resolution, S. Res. 167, introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez [D-NJ] and co-sponsored by Senators Benjamin L. Cardin [D-MD], Bob Corker [R-TN] and Marco Rubio [R-FL], says the U.S. Senate reaffirms “the strong support of the United States for the peaceful resolution of territorial, sovereignty, and jurisdictional disputes in the Asia-Pacific maritime domains.
“Whereas the maritime domain of the Asia-Pacific region includes critical sea lines of communication and commerce between the Pacific and Indian oceans;
“Whereas the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation and over flight in the Asia-Pacific maritime domains, as provided for by universally recognized principles of international law;
“Whereas the United States has a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, open access by all to maritime domains, respect for universally recognized principles of international law, prosperity and economic growth, and unimpeded lawful commerce;
“Whereas the United States has a clear interest in encouraging and supporting the nations of the region to work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats, and without the use of force;
“Whereas the South China Sea contains great natural resources, and their stewardship and responsible use offers immense potential benefit for generations to come;
“Whereas, in recent years, there have been numerous dangerous and destabilizing incidents in this region, including Chinese vessels cutting the seismic survey cables of a Vietnamese oil exploration ship in May 2011; Chinese vessels barricading the entrance to the Scarborough Reef lagoon in April 2012; China issuing an official map that newly defines the contested `nine-dash line’ as China’s national border; and, since May 8, 2013, Chinese naval and marine surveillance ships maintaining a regular presence in waters around the Second Thomas Shoal, located approximately 105 nautical miles northwest of the Philippine island of Palawan;
“Whereas the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has promoted multilateral talks on disputed areas without settling the issue of sovereignty, and in 2002 joined with China in signing a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea that committed all parties to those territorial disputes to `reaffirm their respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and over flight above the South China Sea as provided for by the universally recognized principles of international law’ and to `resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force.’
DRAGON DANCE: Dragon icon such as this will be back in the public eye on July 24 when Filipinos hold rallies in China embassies, where there is big presence of the Filipino Diaspora, to protest China’s aggression in Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea). (Photo courtesy of Rodel Rodis of USP4GG)
WHERE IS AYUNGIN ISLAND? Map shows where Ayungin Island is located in Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea). Filipinos will hold rallies in China embassies on July 24 to protest China from invading Ayungin, which is only 105 nautical miles from Palawan (right). This means Ayungin is within the 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Rodel Rodis of USP4GG)
AUGUST 21 GLOBAL DAY OF PRAYER: A poster of Global Day of Prayer that will be a familiar sight when Filipinos hold their Global Day of Prayer on Aug. 21 to enlighten China from encroaching on the Philippine West Sea (South China Sea). (Photo courtesy of Rodel Rodis of USP4GG)