Due to China’s escalating belligerence in the West Philippine Sea, Senator Risa Hontiveros urges the government to take action and get the situation under control.

She called out agencies such as the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PGC) to do more to protect local fishermen who are being harassed and chased off from traditional fishing grounds by Chinese vessels even during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Huwag natin hayaang mawalan ng kabuhayan at maghirap ang ating mga mangingisda dahil sa lumalalang pangbabraso ng China. Dapat mga Pilipino ang makinabang sa sariling likas yaman ng Pilipinas,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

According to the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, an estimated P33 billion worth of damages to the country’s marine resources are caused by China’s unlawful activities per year. This does not include the lost revenue of Pinoy fishermen who have continuously been bullied by China out of its fishing waters.

Hontiveros emphasized “Wag naman nating balewalain ang dinaranas ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na silang mga nasa gitna ng laot ang ikinabubuhay. We can no longer turn a blind eye. It is so plain, so obvious, that our own waters are under threat,”

The Chinese government has recently approved a law which authorizes the Chinese Coast Guard to use armed force against any vessel or person in areas China claims as part of its jurisdiction, including Philippine territory within the so-called “nine-dash line.” Camille Trinidad