House panel okays bill declaring July 12 as West PH Sea Victory Day

THE House Committee on Revision of Laws has approved a proposed law seeking to declare July 12 of every year a special working holiday to be known as the “West Philippine Sea Victory Day.”

The panel chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas approved House Bill (HB) No. 8966 authored by Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Primicias-Agabas aims to commemorate the historic decision made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in favor of the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea maritime dispute with China.

“In order to commemorate the momentous victory by the Philippines in the PCA, there is a need to designate the 12th of July as a special working holiday to preserve the significance of the ruling, and to ensure that our rights and access over the resources in the West Philippine Sea are preserved as well as to endeavor the government to continually uphold our rights in the West Philippine Sea and ascertain that the policies the government will pursue are consistent with this ruling,” said Alejano.

It was in 2013 when the Philippine Government instituted arbitral proceedings against China at the PCA, wherein the Philippines asked the Arbitration Tribunal to quash China’s ‘nine-dash line’ claim as it does not conform to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The “nine-dash line” was the demarcation line previously used by China to claim major parts of the South China Sea.

The UNCLOS is an international treaty that both China and the Philippines signed and ratified to be considered as the Constitution of the Seas.

On July 12, 2016, the PCA issued a unanimous decision favoring the Philippines  after conducting multiple proceedings on the arbitration case, according to Alejano.

“The PCA declared that China’s ‘nine-dash line’ has no legal basis in international law. Moreover, the efforts exerted by the Philippine Government displayed our country’s commitment to international law  and due process. More importantly, the PCA ruling affirms the country’s entitlements over the resources within the West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.

To ensure the meaningful observance of the holiday, the measure seeks to mandate the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to plan and implement activities that inspire and instill a sense of patrimonial pride in every Filipino.