As part of the nationwide awareness campaign to educate the people on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Philippine Information Agency (PIA) conducted a multi- sectoral forum held on February 17, 2016 at the University of the Cordilleras, Baguio City.

The current dispute between some ASEAN countries on one hand and China on the other hand is a national interest which concerns all.

DFA spokesperson Undersecretary Charles Jose gave a briefing on WPS during the forum,which was attended by local government units, line agencies, uniformed personnel, members of the media, business, academe and youth sector. He highlighted the core issues and corresponding actions of the Philippines in response to the issue.

He said that the massive reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea have damaged the marine environment including corals reefs.

Despite all these, the Philippine government is maintaining a diplomatic stand to resolve the issue by filing a case with the arbitration tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and building alliance with neighboring countries, USec Jose said.

During the forum, the following issues were raised: Is there an initiative to partner with the Department of Education to include the West Philippine Sea issue in the curriculum? What are the initial actions or plan of the Philippines as against the reclamation of China? Can a diplomatic approach in resolving such issue be effective, considering that China is positioning its military weaponries? How can we sway China to abide with the decision of the tribunal in case it is favorable to the Philippines and other countries with similar claims? Will there be a possible war between China and Philippines?These concerns were further clarified by the speaker.

Hence, the DFA, being the primary concerned agency, partners with various agencies to intensify the conduct of massive information campaign on the importance of the seas to the country’s economy and security.The activity was organized to get the cooperation and the participation of the different sectors to become part of the battle cry in promoting awareness and instilling patriotism among Filipinos.

 

 

Maridel P. Langbis, SPCAR