Se­nate tack­les ban vs for­eign en­ti­ties abet­ting ‘in­tru­sions’ into Philip­pine sea ter­ri­to­ries

BusinessMirror - - The Nation - Butch Fer­nan­dez

THE Se­nate is set to tackle a res­o­lu­tion ask­ing the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion to ban from re­ceiv­ing govern­ment con­tracts, or con­duct­ing busi­ness in the coun­try, “for­eign en­ti­ties who are en­gaged in, or abet­ted ac­tiv­i­ties, that in­fringed on the sovereignt­y of the coun­try” over the West Philip­pine Sea and other ar­eas within its ter­ri­to­rial ju­ris­dic­tion.

Filed by Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Ralph Recto, Res­o­lu­tion 507 cited on­go­ing ef­forts to lib­er­al­ize the Philip­pine econ­omy, par­tic­u­larly in the sec­tors of pub­lic ser­vices, re­tail trade and for­eign in­vest­ments “need to en­sure for­eign en­ti­ties con­duct­ing busi­ness in the coun­try shall re­spect and obey Philip­pine laws, in­clud­ing, and most im­por­tantly, laws gov­ern­ing na­tional ter­ri­tory and pat­ri­mony.”

At the out­set, the Recto res­o­lu­tion in­voked a con­sti­tu­tional man­date for the State to pro­tect the na­tion’s ma­rine wealth in its archipelag­ic wa­ters, ter­ri­to­rial sea, and ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone, and re­serve its use “ex­clu­sively to Filipino cit­i­zens.”

It re­called that China’s con­struc­tion of the “Great Wall of Sand” and ram­pant mil­i­ta­riza­tion of the mar­itime area well within, or in prox­im­ity to the West Philip­pine Sea have “af­fected the lives and threat­ened the liveli­hood of Filipinos” in terms of degra­da­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment and de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of fish­eries pro­duc­tion.

More­over, the res­o­lu­tion noted con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates from a mar­itime ex­pert from the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Mar­itime Science In­sti­tute show the Philip­pines is los­ing P33.1 bil­lion an­nu­ally in terms of food and other re­source pro­duc­tion, cli­mate and en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion, an­i­mal habi­tat pro­vi­sion, and cul­tural and recre­ational ser­vices due to the dam­aged ecosys­tems in the Panatag Shoal and the Spratly Is­lands brought about by dredg­ing, recla­ma­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and il­le­gal fish­ing op­er­a­tions by Chi­nese en­ti­ties.

In ad­di­tion, the Recto res­o­lu­tion re­called the Unites States Govern­ment has im­posed sanc­tions against the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China for dredg­ing and re­claim­ing over 3,000 acres of ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands within or in prox­im­ity to the West Philip­pine Sea “in­sti­gat­ing desta­bi­liza­tion in the re­gion, en­croach­ing on the rights of sov­er­eign na­tions and caus­ing “un­told lev­els of en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion.”

At the same time, it ac­knowl­edged that the US govern­ment im­posed visa re­stric­tions against Chi­nese in­di­vid­u­als re­spon­si­ble for, or com­plicit in, ei­ther the large-scale recla­ma­tion, con­struc­tion, mil­i­ta­riza­tion of dis­puted mar­itime fea­ture within or in prox­im­ity to the West Philip­pine Sea, or use of co­er­cion against the South­east Asian claimants to in­hibit their ac­cess to off­shore re­sources.

“The US govern­ment has also in­cluded sev­eral chi­nese com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing the China Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­struc­tion Com­pany and its 24 sub­sidiaries, into the US Depart­ment of Com­merce En­tity List, which im­poses re­stric­tions on do­ing busi­ness with Amer­i­can com­pa­nies,” the res­o­lu­tion said.

In turn, the res­o­lu­tion noted that the Philip­pine govern­ment it­self has “yet to im­pose any sanc­tion against any Chi­nese en­ter­prise or en­tity de­spite be­ing di­rectly af­fected by their ag­gres­sive recla­ma­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, estab­lish­ment of Chi­nese dis­tricts in dis­puted mar­itime fea­tures, and con­tin­u­ous mil­i­tary buildup in ar­eas within or in the prox­im­ity to the West Philip­pine Sea and the Philip­pines Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone.

“While many lo­cal con­trac­tors were black­listed for vi­o­la­tion or cir­cum­ven­tion of pro­cure­ment laws,” it noted that Chi­nese en­ter­prises, “not­with­stand­ing a his­tory of fraud­u­lent pub­lic pro­cure­ment prac­tices or di­rect in­volve­ment in the recla­ma­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in the dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries, are se­cur­ing con­tracts for ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects in the Philip­pines.”

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