By Macon Araneta

Sen. Risa Hontiveros recently called  on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send an official “thank you” to the United Kingdom, France and Germany for rejecting claims by China  in the South China Sea  (Western Philippine Sea) and for supporting the arbitral award won by the Philippines in 2016.

She said the DFA should officially send the country’s “profound appreciation” to the three Western countries that recently submitted a joint note verbale to the United Nations refuting China’s claims over the entire South China Sea.  

The three countries’ statements, she stressed, have effectively strengthened the Philippines’ claims over the West Philippine Sea, through their support and recognition of the arbitral award in the 2016 case of Philippines vs. China.

The opposition Senator said  declarations by the UK, France and Germany before the UN greatly elevate the Philippine’s position.

“Although Malacañang has already issued a statement about this action by the UK,  France and Germany, it would be more appropriate if the government, through the DFA, officially expresses the appreciation and solidarity of Filipinos with our European allies,” she added.

She also noted the Philippines is not alone in fighting over its claim and against the abuses of China.

“We should fully express our gratitude to our friends in the international community who have joined us in opposing China’s unlawful and destructive acts in the West Philippine Sea and the rest of the South China Sea,” she further said.

The landmark case, which was won by the Philippines, was cited in the said note verbale as proof that China’s so-called historic rights and claims to the whole South China Sea have no basis under international law.

Hontiveros then said that government should urge more countries to follow the example of the UK, France, and Germany — as well as the United States and Australia — in rebuking China over her baseless claims in the South China Sea and the continuing abuses against Filipinos in Philippine waters.

“As they say, there is strength in numbers. Let’s work with the international community and create a united front that can stand up to China’s bullying in the West Philippine Sea, and in other parts of the South China Sea,” she added.