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CHR lauds PCG for planting navigational buoys in West Philippine Sea

CHR lauds PCG for planting navigational buoys in West Philippine Sea

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday lauded the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for installing navigational buoys in the West Philippine Sea to ensure safer navigation of ships and assert the country’s sovereignty in the disputed waters.

CHR executive director Jacqueline Ann de Guia was referring to the five navigational buoys bearing the Philippine flag planted by the PCG near Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Likas (West York) Island, Parola (Northeast Cay) Island, and Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.

“The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauds the Philippine Coast Guard for its efforts asserting the sovereignty of the Philippines over the disputed territories where China has constructed artificial islands and interfered with Filipino fishing activities,” de Guia said in a statement.

“No state should deprive our Filipino fisherfolk from carrying out their livelihood in our national territories. The installation of navigational buoys is a notice to the rest of the international community that the Philippines is asserting sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group.”

The Philippine government sued China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in 2013 amid repeated Chinese aggression against Filipino fisherfolk within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which is 200 nautical miles off territorial waters under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

The PCA, in July 2016, junked China’s nine-dash line claim of the entire South China Sea and ruled that the Spratly Islands, Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank are within the Philippines’ EEZ.

The same Hague ruling also deemed Panatag (Scarborough Shoal) as a common fishing ground.

China, however, has refused to recognize the Philippines’ legal victory.

Given the ruling, CHR said China should observe the rule of law.

“These were awarded to the Philippines because they form part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental reef. The PCA ruled that China has no historic rights to resources in the South China Sea and that such rights were extinguished to the extent they were incompatible with the exclusive economic zones provided for in the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas),” de Guia said.

“China has no legal basis to claim over the ‘nine-dash line’ historic claim,” she added.

China, however, has maintained sovereignty over Panatag Shoal. —Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA News

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