The Philippines can seize China-owned assets and properties as payback for the P 200 billion worth of damages caused by the Chinese government to Philippine reef ecosystems, said former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario.
Del Rosario in an Inquirer report said that the Philippine government “needs to stand up for our legitimate rights.”
“China inflicted the most massive, near-permanent and devastating destruction of the marine wealth belonging to Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea,” he was quoted as saying, citing “unanimous” findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016.
“In other words, China is enormously accountable and owes Filipinos billions of pesos for its continuing abuses in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
According to a UP Marine Science Institute study which Del Rosario cited, the Philippines is losing at least P 33 billion annually from damaged reef ecosystems due to China’s illegal fishing operations and artificial islands.
“This sums up to more than P 231 billion since the start of 2014. China refuses to pay its debt to the Filipino people. How will we make China pay? It is time for Filipinos to unite and demand what is due from China. Philippine authorities have the right to seize assets and properties owned by the Chinese state here in the Philippines to satisfy China’s debt to the Filipino people,” Del Rosario was quoted as saying.
“In these possible assets are the Chinese government’s interest in the National Grid (Corporation) of the Philippine (NGCP) and China Telecom as the third telco in our country. China can be held accountable here in our country,” he added.
China assets in PH energy grid
Fears over China-owned assets surfaced last year amid the fact that State Grid Corporation of China owned 40 percent of NGCP, allegedly allowing access to remotely control the country’s power grid.
The NGCP however claimed there is “ no proverbial red button” that allows China to shut down the country’s power grid, adding that there are existing protocols that prevent such a scenario.
Meanwhile, the government awarded Dito Telecommunity, which is backed by China Telecom and the group of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, the permit to operate as the third telecommunications player in the country.
“It is also time for us to protect ourselves from China’s continuing predatory and abusive practices,” Del Rosario was quoted as saying.
He also cited countries such as Australia, Japan, India, the US and the European Union which have recently enacted measures to prevent China from “taking over” vital industries like energy, technology, media, and telecommunications after the economic effects brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
China’s ‘debt’ to the Philippines
Last April, Senator Risa Hontiveros called on China to pay the Philippines for the damages inflicted on the country’s reefs.
The reparations could be used to help in the country’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
However the Chinese Embassy in Manila slammed the senator’s call, calling it “ridiculously absurd” and “irresponsible.”
“Of course I was very disappointed with that dismissive almost non-response of the Chinese Embassy here in the Philippines, Though I wasn’t completely surprised,” Hontiveros was quoted as saying in the report.
“So now it remains up to the Philippine government to assert that it is indeed a very reasonable and legitimate claim,” she added. ##