Though the Philippines won the arbitration case on July 12, 2016 for the West Philippine Sea, it is still a puzzle on which country really owns it. Legally speaks, the rights are within the Philippines, but bases have still been set up in the area by China.
In a Palace news briefing last March 25, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo answered the media about this authority and what the government is doing about the issue. “Ang tanong ko namansa ‘yo, may magagawa ba tayo eh sila ang may control as of now ‘di ba? Mayroon silang puwersa doon,” Panelo said.
The discussion started when Senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares published an interview video of fishermen sharing how they experienced being shooed away by China when they tried to enter Panatag Shoal.
When asked what the government can do about the situation, Panelo added: “We can only protest like any other country who has claims like Vietnam. That’s all we can do or you want us to declare war against them?”
He then reiterated that there have been talks between the Chinese government and Philippines about the issue and is now taking on “bilateral consultation mechanism” (BCM).
While the discussion is ongoing at the House of Representatives, a bill was endorsed to make July 12 West Philippine Sea Victory Day. The bill by Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas and Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list commemorates the victory and hopes that the ruling will be exercised to ensure the rights of the Filipinos on their access to the West Philippine Sea.