“Proposed: West Philippine Sea as a Peace Zone”
The West Philippine Sea (WPS) is known as a center of marine biodiversity. It has countless species of fish, coral, seagrass and other marine life existing in interdependence. It is spawning grounds for schools of fish that populate waters throughout Southeast Asia. it may also hold the key to biomedical breakthroughs.
Ironically, WPS is also vastly rich in oil and natural gas. (It can supply power to the grids of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao for at least 20 years.) Extraction of these fuels pose a danger to the rich marine life. It also makes the area a flashpoint, driving sovereignty issues among claimant nations. Land reclamation, seabed mining and other largescale activities make the WPS truly a “hotspot”.
WPS lies well within the Philippine economic zone. According to the late Philippine Ambassador Albert del Rosario, “Under international law, the West Philippine Sea, including Reed Bank, exclusively belongs to Filipinos and no one else.”
To ensure WPS’s protection, several moves have been initiated. Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Atty. Tony Oposa, filed with the United Nation Permanent Mission a petition to proclaim as Asia Marine Peace Park the West Philippine Sea. Rep. Edward Hagedorn filed a bill that seeks to protect parts of the West Philippine Sea from destructive human exploitation. Senator Raffy T. Tulfo filed the Kig and Scarborough Shoal Marine Protected Area Act of 2022 declaring the three (3) nautical miles surrounding the Kalayaan Island group and Scarborough shoal in the West Philippine Sea as Marine Protected Area.
June episode of Kamayan para sa Kalikasan Forum on June 16, 2023; 2:30pm – 5:30 pm via Zoom.
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