MANILA, Philippines — China was once again pressured by opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros to pay for the “environmental damage” it caused in the West Philippine Sea.
Hontiveros made the call on Wednesday as she sought a Senate investigation into China’s alleged harvesting and destruction of corals in Rozul Reef.
According to her, the Philippines could get billions if China is forced to pay, adding that this will also benefit the country in light of the ongoing economic crisis.
“Ninanakawan na nga nila ng hanapbuhay ang ating mga mangingisda, winawasak pa nila ang ating likas-yaman. If you go to Tsina, you can tap into the economy of the Philippine Islands,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
(They are robbing our fishermen of their livelihoods, and now they are even destroying our natural resources. If China can pay off all its debts to the Philippines, it will certainly help us amid the economic crisis we are facing.)
This was not the first time the senator urged China to pay. In 2020, Hontiveros urged the executive branch to continue diplomatic efforts and requiring China to pay for damaging reef ecosystems on the islands of Panatag Shoal and Spratly as a result of its land reclamation activities.
Quoting a scientist from the University of the Philippines, Hontiveros said the Philippines loses an estimated P33.1 billion annually due to this damage.
She also emphasized that the Philippines has the right to sue China, pointing out that it would not be the first time the country has sought reparations.
“Japan paid our country for the destruction of Manila during World War II, and in more recent history the United States of America also paid the Philippines P87 million after the USS Guardian damaged the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea,” Hontiveros explained.
Meanwhile, in addition to pressing China to pay, Hontiveros also filed a proposed Senate Resolution No. 804 on Tuesday, calling on the appropriate Senate committee to investigate, in support of the legislation, the alleged harvesting and destruction of corals in Rozul Reef.
In her resolution, the senator stressed that the Philippines should explore available means to hold China accountable, adding that this could include a claim for damages to be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration.