PH should tap international experts to prove China’s possible destruction of corals in WPS – senator

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — Senator Francis Tolentino on Friday said the Philippines should work with international experts in collecting evidence to help prove that the destruction of coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea may be linked to China’s activities in the area.

“I think a multilateral approach to having the science here involved would probably help us too, it’s not just our own scientific evaluation but there has got to be an international sampling and validation of whether there really was discoloration, damage, the reefs were pulverized,” Tolentino told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

He specifically mentioned the United Nations, private and public groups, and universities which can help in the research.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning in a Thursday briefing denied claims that Beijing is responsible for the environmental damage at Rozul Reef in the West Philippine Sea. She said the Philippines’ accusations have no factual basis and that it should “stop creating a political drama from fiction." 

For Tolentino, China is trying to evade the issue despite available evidence showing that the destructions made on Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal are man-made.

Sila lang naman 'yung nandoon because of their swarming activities, ito ‘yung nagdulot discoloration, pulverized corals so these are man-made activities and intervention,” he added.

[Translation: They are the only ones there because of their swarming activities which caused discoloration, pulverized corals so these are man-made activities and intervention.]

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday the government is considering taking China to court again as it studies all legal options following the reported massive damage to coral reefs. 

Tolentino said the options include going to the Permanent Court of Arbitration or the International Court of Justice, but the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) might be the best venue. The lawmaker noted it will be hard to influence the 21 members of ITLOS who also have enough experience in handling similar cases.

He also said Manila should first file a case against Beijing before demanding payment for the destruction of the coral reefs.

“I think China will only pay if there is a conclusive proof shown to the entire global community that would probably place them in a situation that they would behave appropriately,” he added.