By Joey Natividad
Stakeholders for peace and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea express unity and solidarity with Filipino stakeholders wanting to defend sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea that has coverage over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
A ten-point program was presented among regional peace stakeholders on the day of the fifth anniversary of the Philippines’ victory over China having been granted the Arbitral Award in the international forum.
The 10-point program was presented during the Citizens Alliance for Life and the Law of the Sea (CALL of the SEA), Zoom Conference entitled “Answering the CALL of the SEA”on Monday, July 12, 2021, at 10:00 AM.
US-based Filipino lady lawyer Loida Nicolas Lewis, who hails from Sorsogon Province, is a leading proponent of the CALL of the SEA.
Noted speàkers were former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio; Atty. Rico Domingo, President of Philippine Bar Association; Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin; former Senator Joey Lina, convenor; and other experts.
The 10-point program:
- To prod Civil society organizations (CSOs) to educate their memberships on the significance of the Arbitral Award, the EEZ, continental shelf, UNCLOS through various educational fora at the regional, provincial, city, town, and barangay levels, in cooperation with local government units”.
- To encourage CSOs to form alliances with their international counterparts to enlist support for the enforcement of the AWARD and the promotion of UNCLOS, leading to the creation of a Global Alliance
for Life and the Law of the Seas.
- To prod the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to include the West Philippine Sea, EEZs, UNCLOS, and the AWARD as part of the mandatory study of the Philippine
Constitution to ensure that Filipinos are more aware of Philippine territory and national patrimony.
- To prod institutions, like Media, Church, and Business, to promote awareness and knowledge about
UNCLOS and the AWARD in their spheres of influence.
- To support appropriate legislation and executive action that asserts our sovereign rights over the EEZ by pro-actively inviting multi-country joint-venture partners to explore and develop natural resources in the West Philippine Sea, as well as in our Pacific Seaboard, the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise).
- To encourage the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard to show a pro-active assertion of our sovereign
rights by protecting Filipino fishermen from being bullied by foreign fishermen or armed militias in the West Philippine Sea.
- To encourage the Department of Foreign Affairs to continue filing appropriate diplomatic protests every time our sovereign rights are violated, and to initiate actions to rally the world’s governments to respect UNCLOS and enforce the AWARD.
- To encourage the Department of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with Congress and experts, to conduct
an in-depth study on the propriety of filing a resolution before the UN General Assembly and other
international bodies to call for compliance with the AWARD. And for DFA to initiate moves to speed up the finalization of the Code of Safe Conduct for the South China Sea, which will include the AWARD.
- To prod the Department of National Defense to join Freedom of Navigation Exercises by the world powers and to organize the same among ASEAN countries with overlapping claims in the South China
- To prod the Department of National Defense to prepare a contingency plan aimed at strengthening our national defense system and to include reservists to help defend the state should the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights be threatened.