On 5th year of arbitration win vs. China, Robredo says fight for rights in West PH Sea must continue

MANILA – (July 11, 2021) – Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday reiterated that the Philippines must use its historic arbitration win against China to assert the rights of Filipinos over the West Philippine Sea—in particular for the fishermen who are most affected by the persistent harassment.

VP Leni said the fifth anniversary of the landmark ruling is a “reminder” of what is at stake for the country, amid China’s continued encroachment over the Philippines’ territory.

“Pagpapaalala ‘yong fifth anniversary bukas na mayroon tayong pinaglalaban pa… na marami tayong mga kababayan na nakabase doon ‘yong kanilang hanapbuhay,” she said on her weekly radio show, Biserbisyong Leni, on RMN DZXL 558.

“Marami ‘yong epekto sa atin, pero ang pinakaramdam, itong mga maliliit na mangingisda natin, na ang pinagkukunan ng hanapbuhay nasa dagat natin. Ang experience talaga nila, naghahanapbuhay sila within our exclusive economic zone, pero tinataboy sila, kinukuha kung anuman yong kanilang napangisda na,” she added.

“Kapag makausap mo sila, sobrang kawawa… mahirap naman dati iyong hanapbuhay, umaasa lang na makakuha nang kaunti, hindi naman nila ikakayaman. Iyong inaasahan nilang makuhang kaunti, para makakain iyong pamilya, para mapaaral iyong mga anak,” VP Leni also said.

“Ito talaga iyong mukha noong problema doon. Ang gusto kong sabihin, mas malaki iyong problema: ang pinag-uusapan iyong sovereignty, iyong encroachment sa territory, pero iyong mukha talaga nito iyong mga maliliit na mangingisda, na sumusubok lang mabuhay, tapos sila pa iyong maha-harass, sila iyong tatakutin, sila iyong papaalisin,” she added.

VP Leni underscored anew that the Philippines’ move to challenge China’s sweeping claims before the Permanent Court of Arbitration was “much anticipated” even by the international community, and the country’s big win should be an instrument to “collaborate” with other countries affected.

“‘Yong pagkapanalo natin, makasaysayan ‘yon. Tayo ‘yong pinakaunang bansa na dinala ang China to arbitration,” she said. “Ito ay may epekto hindi lang sa atin, pero may epekto ito sa lahat ng may claims over sa South China Sea saka sa West Philippine Sea.” ###