QUEZON CITY – After grabbing the Scarborough Shoal, known to Filipinos as Bajo de Masinloc being part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales, and other areas in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, China is now reportedly dumping alleged human wastes there endangering the aquatic life in the region.
Simularity, the geospatial artificial intelligence company, using satellite imagery, showed on July 12 that hundreds of ships anchored at the Spratlys are dumping raw sewage into the reefs they are occupying, apparently referring to China.
Simularity noted that the damage in the past five years is even visible from space and directly affects the fish stocks of the entire South China Sea.
“This is a catastrophe of epic proportions and we are close to the point of no return. This Needs To Stop Immediately,” it said, adding the hashtag “#ChinaStopShittingOnTheSpratlys”.
“We are not biased against the Chinese. We do science-based research and report on our findings. If any country is doing things they should not be doing, and we can see that from satellite imagery, they are fair game for our reporting,” it said.
Meanwhile, more than a week before President Rodrigo Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA), fisherfolk and civil society organizations gave his administration with 1/10 rating on its implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal No. 14 “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,” or briefly Life Below Water during an online forum streamed on the social media accounts of various groups. It was organized by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) and AGHAM Diliman.
“The Duterte government grossly failed the SDG 14, even at the very appreciation of its essence, and of the whole 2030 Agenda. It failed on the elementary stage of setting Goals, Targets and Indicators, selectively highlighting items it favored, and clearly abandoned its essence of benefiting the marginalized and vulnerable small fisherfolk sector,” Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and a former lawmaker for Anakpawis Party-list, cited during the presentation of the Fisherfolk and People’s Agenda for SDG 14.
He particularly criticized that out of 10 goals and 10 targets set by the United Nations for SDG 14 on its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Duterte administration, through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) only picked one goal, as part of its national counterpart agenda. NEDA only included indicator “14.5.1 Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas,” on its 2030 Nationally Determined Numerical Targets for the SDGs.
Moreover, Jerwin Baure, AGHAM Diliman Chairperson and PAMALAKAYA resident fisheries expert stressed that small-scale fishing is actually the form of sustainable fisheries and should be promoted and protected. He elaborated on the sustainable yield curve and overfishing or surpassing the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is through increased effort and cost predominantly of commercial fishing, and ultimately would lead to depletion, manifested by low catch. He emphasized that the future of fishing are fleets of artisanal or small-scale fishing vessels.
The Department of National Defense (DND) is now looking into reports of the alleged human waste dumping by Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and continued swarming of Chinese warships and militia vessels in the area which many Filipinos, including fishermen, assailed.
This developed as China continues to belittle the Philippines arbitral tribunal victory over South China Sea nine-dash-line claims, calling the win “nothing more than a waste paper,” the same words President Rodrigo Duterte in his pro-China stance.
“The South China Sea arbitration violated the principle of state consent and the arbitral tribunal exercised its jurisdiction ultra vires and rendered an award in disregard of law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said as the Philippines marked the fifth year since winning its claims over its vast exclusive economic zone in the West Philipine Sea.
“The award of the arbitration is illegal, null, and void. It is nothing more than a piece of waste paper. China does not accept or participate in the arbitration, nor does it accept or recognize the award,” he added.
Lorenzana stressed the ruling is a milestone in the country’s history as it affirms its claim over the disputed waters.
“The award is final and executory. We also welcome the support of other nations who consider the award as having the force of international law. We likewise appreciate their serious concerns over excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea),” he added.
“We have taken note of the news circulating online about the alleged dumping of waste in the South China Sea. Be that as it may, I have directed the Western Command who has jurisdiction over the WPS to verify and investigate,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.
Lorenzana also said while the Philippines has yet to confirm if these wastes are indeed being dumped in the WPS, he said such irresponsible acts, if proven true, will cause grave damage to marine life in the region.
“Despite conflicting claims and interests by states in the South China Sea, all nations must be responsible stewards of our natural resources and environment,” he added.