Statement of Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Arbitral Tribunal Ruling: Ensure Filipino Fisherfolk Can Fish Without Fear In West P Sea

July 12, 2016


We welcome the ruling as a victory for the Filipino people as well as for all nations opposing China’s all-encompassing nine-dash line claim. The decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration can serve as a reboot in the stalled China-Philippines diplomatic relations. It gives a smaller nation like our own greater leverage when faced with an economic superpower like China.

Together with having a new administration, the ruling allows both parties to come to the negotiating table with fresh perspectives. China and the Philippines have had people-to-people interactions spanning a thousand years. Both countries have had common painful historical experiences and indignities as colonies of foreign powers. Of the latter, their occupation of the reefs in the West Philippine Sea resonates to that past.

Now that the ruling has been handed down, the Philippines should be open to bilateral or multilateral talks with other claimant nations as a means to move forward a peaceful resolution of the dispute. And during these negotiations, we should ensure two things: that the corals and the maritime ecology in the South China Sea are not destroyed, and that Filipino fishermen are able to exercise their livelihood sustainably and to fish in their traditional fishing grounds without fear.