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MANILA, Philippines - Two lawmakers on Wednesday condemned China's incursion into Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal and demanded that its vessels leave the area. This, even as they sought an investigation into government's alleged failure "to assert sovereignty and enforce illegal fishing laws against the Chinese fishermen."
"It is the Chinese who should leave our waters," said Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casino who, with Representative Neri Colmenares of the same party-list, filed House Resolution 2330.
Bayan Muna is scheduled to picket the Chinese embassy in Manila on Thursday to protest the incursions, which have led to a continued standoff at the disputed island.
“Sila na nga pumasok sa teritoryo natin, nambulabog at kumuha ng mga endangered species ng ating karagatan e sila pa ang may ganang paalisin tayo. Sila ang dapat umalis (They come into our territory, cause a disturbance, take endangered species from our seas and want us to leave. They should leave),” Casino said.
While stressing that the Philippines does not want to go to war, Casino said the “government must assert its sovereignty through whatever means it can.”
"The Chinese might be bullying us but we must stand our ground,” he said. “We must have our dignity as a nation intact; it is with this that our ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) friends and the international community will see that we are on a moral and righteous high ground and come to our aid.”
However, Casino cautioned against bringing in the United States into the conflict.
"This matter is best settled between China and the Philippines through diplomatic means and using the international conventions. We do not need another bully like the US in our backyard," he said.
Aside from bringing the case to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the Philippine government, including Congress, should also assert the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea which was signed in 2002 by ASEAN members and the People’s Republic of China to ease tensions in the region and serve as a foundation for future negotiations, he said.
The Bayan Muna lawmakers’ resolution also urged the House to explore possible solutions to the "continued infringement of Philippine territory, especially those that may require legislation or even diplomatic initiatives involving members of the legislative branch."