Lorenzana urges public not to exaggerate tension in West PH Sea

Published July 13, 2021, 5:13 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has encouraged the public from exacerbating the situation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) even as he belied a report about China’s supposed dumping of waste in the South China Sea (SCS).

​Pag-asa Island, Kalayaan town, West Philippine Sea. (Photo by PNA via Philippine Navy / File photo)

Lorenzana, in a statement issued late Monday night, July 13, the fifth year anniversary of the arbitral ruling in the WPS, said that the country’s claims in the WPS is affirmed by the tribunal award which is “final and executory.”

The WPS is part of the SCS which is within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hagues, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines’ claims in the SCS and rejected China’s nine-dash line claim.

However, the Defense Chief noted that some parties should stop adding fuel to the fire as the country seeks to achieve a “peaceful and friendly management” of all its standing maritime disputes with other nations.

“On this anniversary, we once again urge all interested parties to heed the call for a rules-based international order and refrain from acts that may exacerbate the tense situation in the area,” he said.

Human waste in SCS?

Meanwhile, Lorenzana stated that the report of a United States-based geospatial imagery firm about the supposed dumping of human waste and sewage of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the reefs that they occupy in the SCS “is not true.”

“The reported dumping of waste in the WPS is not true,” he said in a separate statement Tuesday, July 13.

In an online forum Monday, Liz Derr, founder of American geospatial imagery firm saidthe dumping of human waste in the SCS “is so intense you can see it from space.”

Derr said the illegal activity may result to a cascade of of reef damage that will “take decades to recover even with active mitigation.”

However, Lorenzana belied a certain news item which reported about the supposed violation of China in the SCS, saying the photos used in the report were not accurate.

Lorenzana said the photos used in the report were taken in 2014 from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and not in SCS.

Lorenzana said they have already coordinated with concerned govenrment agencies to verify the authenticity of the incident.

“While we have yet to confirm if these wastes have reached our waters, such irresponsible acts, if true, will undoubtedly cause grave damage to the marine ecology in the region,” he said.

“Despite overlapping claims and interests by states in the South China Sea, all nations must be responsible stewards of the environment,” he noted.