In the continuing territorial dispute between the Philippine government and the Chinese government on the ownership of Panatag Shoal located in the West Philippine Sea, Akbayan Youth together with other groups slammed the continued intrusion of Chinese vessels in Panatag Shoal.
According to Akbayan Youth National Spokesperson JC Tejano, “the intrusion of Chinese vessels in Panatag Shoal has undermined Philippine sovereignty over its territory. This is an apparent manifestation of violation and disrespect of our country’s sovereignty which has an exclusive right over Panatag Shaol. This is also a clear violation of the 2002 Code of Conduct.”
“Based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which Philippines and China are both signatories, it is clear that Panatag Shoal is under the sovereignty of the Philippines since it is within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone of the country and is just 108 nautical miles away from Masinloc, Zambales,” Tejano said.
Tejano added that continuous acts like this will only result in destabilizing the Southeast Asian region, “A continuation of this conflict will not do any good to the Philippines and China, as well as to our neighboring countries. It would only further strain regional stability,” Tejano further added.
“Peaceful and diplomatic methods in resolving this dispute should be explored and pursued by both governments,” Tejano emphasized. “Akbayan Youth urges the Chinese government to respect the sovereignty of the Philippines over Panatag Shoal, pull off its maritime vessels in the area and engage in multilateral talks together with other ASEAN member-states to settle territorial disputes within the region. We cannot resolve a conflict through coercive and violent methods such as military pressure and bullying,” Tejano said.
Tejano pointed out that “we have been incessantly bullied by powerful countries. We went through a state of fear during the missile launch of North Korea and now here comes another bully – the Chinese government which continuously and increasingly intrudes Philippine maritime territory.”
Akbayan Youth criticized the continuous and increased presence of US military in our country stressing that it only weakens Philippine sovereignty and independence.
“The Philippine government should also end the Balikatan military exercises for this makes us dependent of US control. Also, it worsens the dispute we have in Panatag Shoal as it only provokes China to persist and aggravate its actions of intruding Philippine maritime territory,” Tejano said. “We should assert and defend Philippine sovereignty against these bullies using the mechanisms of international law along with the support of other Southeast Asian nations in order not to lose our sovereignty and independence as a nation,” Tejano added.
“At this time of national crisis wherein our sovereignty as a country is being challenged and stepped on by powerful countries, Akbayan Youth calls on the Filipino youth to stand and act against this bullying being done by the Chinese government,” Tejano said. “We should learn from our history of being a colony where our sovereignty and dignity were violated by the powerful countries at that time. We should not allow the disrespect of our sovereignty to continue,” Tejano added. ###
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