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Activists call for protection against China on anniversary of ruling on West Philippine Sea

The United States, meanwhile, vowed to preserve “a system where goods, ideas, and people flow freely across land, sky, cyberspace, and the open seas”

Activists called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday, July 12, to pursue a “principled foreign policy” by asserting the country’s territorial integrity in the West Philippines Sea.

A group of youth activists held a demonstration outside the Chinese Cultural Consulate in the Philippine capital on Tuesday to assert respect for the landmark 2013 ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea.

The decision declared that China’s historic claim over nearly the entire waters as illegal under the 1982 UNCLOS, considered as the constitution of the seas.



The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.

China and the Philippines are among the 163 signatory states to the treaty.

The protesters said the ruling provided the Philippines with international and moral recognition of its right to the disputed area.

They “challenged” Marcos “to prove [his] commitment to serving the Filipino people and pursue a principled foreign policy.”

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The groups — Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa-Youth and Akbayan Youth — called on the president “to take full advantage of our victory at the international level,” noting that the UNCLOS is “an important instrument for asserting our independence that should not be wasted.”

“The Philippine government must never forget that the abandonment of our fellow Filipinos to Chinese imperialist bullying is a betrayal of the Filipino people,” read the statement.

Youth activists hold a demonstration outside the Chinese Cultural Consulate in Makati City to mark the anniversary of the decision of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that favored the Philippines’ diplomatic protest against China’s sweeping claims in the West Philippine Sea. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

They said the “acts of aggression” by China in recent years “have also undermined international law, leading to the further militarization of the contested waters.”

“Once again, these developments not only compromise international peace, they also concretely affect our fisherfolk communities in the West Philippine Sea,” said the youth groups.

Earlier, the youth-led West Philippine Sea Coalition also called on Marcos to hold true to his electoral promise to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In a media briefing on June 11, youth leaders from different schools, communities and trade unions urged the Marcos administration “not to sail in the same direction as the previous administration.”

“There is no unity without sovereignty,” they said, adding that the Filipino youth will hold Marcos to his promises.

The United States, meanwhile, vowed to preserve “a system where goods, ideas, and people flow freely across land, sky, cyberspace, and the open seas” in the region.

In a statement on July 11, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the system “benefits all countries, big and small.”

“Preserving a free and open South China Sea governed by international law, as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, is part of this shared vision,” he said.

The US official said the decision of the arbitral tribunal, which was constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, “is final and binding” on the Philippines and China.

Youth activists hold a demonstration outside the Chinese Cultural Consulate in Makati City to mark the anniversary of the decision of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that favored the Philippines’ diplomatic protest against China’s sweeping claims in the West Philippine Sea. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Blinken said the tribunal “firmly rejected” China’s “expansive South China Sea maritime claims as having no basis in international law.”

This year, the US State Department released Limits in the Seas No. 150 — the latest study in a series examining coastal state maritime claims and their consistency with international law — which examines China’s revised articulation of its South China Sea maritime claims following the issuance of the tribunal’s ruling.

This study concluded that these re-articulated maritime claims remain plainly “inconsistent with international law.”

The State Department statement said the United States “reaffirms its July 13, 2020, policy regarding maritime claims in the South China Sea.”

“We also reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” it said.

The United States urged China “to abide by its obligations under international law and cease its provocative behavior.”

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