Title: Philippines Accuses China of Destroying Coral Reefs, Explores Legal Options
The Philippines has recently leveled serious accusations against China, claiming that it has been responsible for the destruction of coral reefs within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea. As a response, the Philippines is considering filing a second case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, related to the destruction of Iroquois Reef. Notably, the Philippines had previously won a case against China in 2016, contesting its claims to the disputed area.
To assess the extent of the environmental damage incurred at Iroquois Reef, the Philippines’ foreign ministry is patiently awaiting the results of assessments, which will help guide their response. The study on the destruction of coral reefs and other incidents in the West Philippine Sea has been primarily prompted by growing concerns over the overall situation in the region.
The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines has expressed its readiness to contribute to efforts aimed at protecting and preserving the marine environment. However, the pursuit of arbitration holds the potential to stir controversy, given the Philippines’ 2016 victory against China in a previous dispute.
In response to the accusations, China has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has instead accused the Philippines of creating political drama. However, the Philippines’ coast guard and armed forces have reported severe damage to the marine environment and coral at Iroquois Reef, specifically attributing it to 33 Chinese vessels that were moored in the area during the months of August and September.
China’s assertion of sovereignty over the region has led to the construction of manmade islands in the Spratly area, while other nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines also occupy islands within their respective EEZs. The coral in the South China Sea holds significant value for various purposes, including construction materials, traditional medicines, and souvenirs.
Furthermore, the Philippines has a vested interest in accessing valuable gas reserves located in the Reed Bank, which is situated near Iroquois Reef. However, China’s claim to the area complicates the Philippines’ plans, thus adding further complexity to the ongoing disputes in the South China Sea.
As tensions continue to rise, the Philippines will determine its next course of action based on the assessments of environmental damage and legal advice from Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra. The outcome of this situation has significant implications for both nations and the wider region.