Demand China to pay compensation for damaged coral reefs as well, Palace urged

Demand China to pay compensation for damaged coral reefs as well, Palace urged

Manila, Philippines – “China should be compelled to pay billions of dollars remuneration for at least 1,850 hectares of damaged coral reefs caused by its reclamation activities, and for the back rent for the years of illegal occupation of sea features in the West Philippine Sea, in the same way that President Duterte demands the United States (U.S.) to pay $16 billion for hosting its troops in the country,” According to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), reacting to the demand of President Rodrigo Duterte to U.S. to pay $16 billion for hosting its troops and for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to proceed.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said that “unless China is also held accountable and compelled to pay compensation for its illegal occupation and destruction of marine resources in the West Philippine Sea, Duterte’s demand for U.S. to pay is nothing but a sellout and pimping of our national sovereignty in exchange for American dollars,”.

“It’s an utterly misplaced concern for the Duterte government to demand money to U.S. while completely silent and dysfunctional about China’s rampant destruction and militarization of the West Philippine Sea,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

Citing the study of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI), China’s damage to West Philippine Sea reefs costs about P33.1 billion per year. It covers the damaged reef ecosystems at Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) and Kalayaan Islands (Spratlys) with 550 hectares and 1,300 hectares, respectively.

“China is accountable for the large-scale devastation of our marine resources in the West Philippine Sea, and yet the Duterte government is exerting lots of energy to collect American dollars that is actually far from the framework of upholding our national sovereignty,” Jerwin Baure, a marine scientist from the group AGHAM and PAMALAKAYA’s resident fisheries expert said.

The fishers’ group said that “while we push for China’s accountability for aggression in the West Philippine Sea, we reassert that the VFA and other one-sided military agreements with the U.S. that give its troops extraterritorial rights in our land be terminated,”.

Lastly, PAMALAKAYA calls out newly-elected U.S. President Joe Biden for “aligning” itself with the “internationally-exposed and scorned” Duterte administration through continued military aid and support.

“The new POTUS should be reminded that continued military aid to the Philippines is tantamount to enabling Duterte’s murderous reign and moreover, his sponsored state terrorism,” ended Hicap. ###

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