AGHAM joining various groups at a protest outside the Chinese embassy in Makati City pending the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal ruling on July 12, 2016 / Photo: Bullit Marquez, AP

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the Philippines’ victory at the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), where China’s nine-dash line claim has been junked and our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) recognized, AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People adds its voice to the call of fellow scientists, fisherfolk, environmentalists, and nation-loving Filipinos to assert our rights to our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and demand a stop to China’s unhampered illegal activities in the area.

Despite his strong pronouncements three years ago, President Duterte has reneged on his promise to assert our claim over the disputed waters. His administration continues to turn a blind eye on China’s heightened island-building, military aggression, and unhampered resource exploitation in the West Philippine Sea. 

It has been a month since a Chinese fishing vessel rammed F/B Gem-Ver 1 and left 22 Filipino fishermen at the Recto Bank, yet the Duterte administration keeps downplaying the incident, even blaming the Filipino fisherfolk for being hit at sea. Duterte himself also insisted that what he is doing is constitutional and beneficial for Filipinos.

Despite the extortion incident at Zambales last year and the illegal poaching of giant clams a few months ago, the Duterte administration has failed to implement any concrete action to protect our natural resources. Worse, he has given China license to fish – and implicitly, unhampered access – to the WPS, in direct contravention to the UNCLOS ruling.

The marine wealth offered by the WPS contribute significantly to our country’s food security, energy self-sufficiency, and ecological balance, and helps safeguard us from disaster. Its outright sale should be condemned and should immediately stop. 

As Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address approaches, AGHAM calls on our fellow Filipinos and fellow scientists and engineers to stand with us in our fight for our sovereign rights over our waters and lands, in the WPS and beyond.

Siyentista ng bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban! 
Atin ang Pinas, China layas!