THE PHILIPPINE’S top diplomat called for cooperation among nations to protect marine resources from plastic pollution and other threats, including those in international waters, as the country joined the global celebration of World Ocean’s Day on June 8.
“Our response to this call for collective action is clear,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a recorded video message posted on Youtube on Monday.
“We must stop the scourge of marine plastic pollution, protect marine biodiversity especially in areas beyond national jurisdiction (and) reaffirm our respect and common commitment to the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).”
Mr. Locsin said the world has yet to fully understand the threats of climate change, global warming, overfishing, microplastics, and mismanaged coastal development.
He further said maritime disputes also impact the world’s oceans, “with artificial island-building and drilling activities devastating coral reefs and pushing marine ecosystems over the brink.”
China has been constructing artificial islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea, including in areas declared as part of the West Philippine Sea.
It takes collective action to achieve genuine change, Mr. Locsin said, reaffirming the Philippines’ commitment to protect the oceans, seas, and marine resources.
A party-list in the Philippines, the Alliance of Groups Supporting Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), said it was “high time that the people collectively seek accountability from the government’s criminal negligence on protecting the environment.”
In a statement on Wednesday, it said, “The people must reclaim the control, management and development of our oceans and its natural resources. Let us continue to defend them from the plunder and destruction of big capitalists and foreign encroachers.”
AGHAM said collective efforts must be strengthened to halt the destruction of marine protected areas, illegal fishing, reclamation activities, and fossil fuel burning.
“We must solidify our unity as Filipinos in guarding our national patrimony to secure a better future for the next generation to enjoy the country’s national resources,” it said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan