(Photo grabbed from web)
CLARK FREEPORT – A fisherfolk group has noted that damage by Chinese vessels in the underwater wealth in Philippine seas, estimated to be at least P892.8 billion, overwhelms the P459 billion loans and official development assistance being extended by the China to the Philippines.
“The amount that China has caused in its destruction of the West Philippine Sea outweighs the burdensome loans that the Duterte government has been begging from the foreign aggressor,” the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said over the weekend.
The group noted that China earlier pledged $9 billion or P459 billion in loans and official development assistance to the Philippines. It cited the projects to be funded as the P3.69-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, P12.2-billion New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, P175.32-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long- Haul, and the P50.03-billion Subic-Clark Railway.
In a statement, Pamalakaya warned of “highly dangerous Chinese loans that could lead to China taking over Philippine infrastructures and public utilities.”
It recalled that in its 2016 verdict, the UNbacked Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) confirmed that China was responsible for 99 percent of the overall damage to coral reefs within the West Philippine Sea that covers 124 square kilometers or 12,400 hectares.
“China is liable to pay the Philippines an amount of P223.2 billion based on the baseline value of P18 million per hectare of damaged coral reefs per year as estimated by a Dutch information and analytics company. If they include the yearly cost since the PCA released the estimate in 2016, the amount would be quadrupled to P892.8 billion,” the statement said.
Pamalakaya said “Our coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea have dwindled due to Chinese reclamation and destructive harvesting practices, including shallow dredging to extract our precious giant clams.”
“The Filipino people must strongly compel China to pay the Philippines a whopping amount of P892.8 billion for environmental degradation caused by its territorial aggression,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chair said.
The group also said “the damage created by China will have a longterm and strategic negative impact on fish production and livelihood of at least three million Filipino fisherfolk and fishworkers in the West Philippine Sea.”