Hontiveros wants DFA to seek UNGA resolution to stop China's harassment in WPS

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) — Senator Risa Hontiveros filed a measure on Monday urging the national government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to sponsor a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) calling on China to cease its harassment of Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

"Although not legally binding, UNGA resolutions carry significant political weight and serve as expressions of the will and consensus of the international community, with the potential to shape international norms, influence national policies, and provide guidance for the work of other UN organs, specialized agencies, and regional organizations," Hontiveros explained in Proposed Senate resolution 659.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio told CNN Philippines' The Source in 2017 that the DFA could take a similar resolution before the UNGA not to the UN Security Council (UNSC) to pressure China into complying with the 2016 Hague ruling that nullified Beijing's claim over the West Philippine Sea. China continues to reject the ruling.

READ: Senior Associate Justice: Raise China threat to United Nations

The UNGA is one of six principal organs of the UN. It serves as the body's chief deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ.

Unlike the UNSC which has only 15 members and grants its five permanent members — one of which is China — veto powers, the General Assembly counts all 193 states in the UN as a member and each gets one vote.

The UN said that 80% of its UNGA resolutions are adopted through consensus or without a vote. Meanwhile, those adopted through voting only need a simple majority — 50% of all votes plus one — to pass.

In her Senate resolution, Hontiveros cited China's rejection of the landmark ruling and its continued harassment of Filipino fisherfolk, Coast Guard, and even military vessels, which the DFA described as a daily occurrence.

"Rather than comply with this decision, the Chinese government has instead chosen to ramp up its harassment of Philippine vessels, including those of the country's fisherfolk, armed forces, and Coast Guard, thus undermining the peace and stability in the region," she wrote.

Moreover, she added that the passage of the resolution would honor the legacy of late Senator Rodolfo Biazon, "a staunch advocate of the country's interests in the WPS [West Philippine Sea], who, in 2021, criticized the government's confused stand on the disputed territory."