Security council meeting pressed

February 23, 2019

A RESOLUTION expressing the need to convene the National Security Council (NSC) for the purpose of formulating policy on the West Philippine Sea was adopted in the House of Representatives.

Principally authored by Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, House Resolution 1855 underscored the need to define the national policy on the West Philippine Sea.

Biazon said that now is the most opportune time to convene the NSC so that the country may benefit from the collective wisdom, experience, and expertise of its members in the crafting of an official Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea.

The resolution states that on July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s “historic rights” claims to the maritime areas of the West Philippine Sea encompassed by the so-called nine-dash line.

The resolution further states that the Court also ruled that China’s occupation and construction activities on Mischief Reef, also known as the Panganiban Reef, violate the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

Despite the ruling, developments in the West Philippine Sea being conducted by different claimant-nations in the Spratly area continue to create tension.

These include the reported recent installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems by China on Kagitingan, Zamora, and Panganiban Reefs as well as other activities.

According to reports, China has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles and YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship with a reported range of 160 and 295 miles respectively, with the latter theoretically enabling China to interdict shipping in an arc stretching from the coast off central Vietnam, to eastern Malaysia’s Sabah state and the Philippines’ Palawan Island.

While the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has conducted various initiatives such as several state visits and high-level talks to deepen the country’s ties with the People’s Republic of China, numerous Philippine government officials have issued separate statements on the West Philippine issue that reflect the need to formulate a national policy and plan of action.

“There is therefore a need for the country to come up with an official policy on the West Philippine Sea that will serve as the national guide to all officials and policymakers in order that the Philippine position may be clear and strengthened in the international community,” Biazon said.

As such, Biazon argues that convening the NSC has become necessary. As per Executive Order 115 series of 1986, the NSC is tasked “to formulate and adopt policies, programs, and procedures on all matters pertaining to or affecting the national security so that judgments and actions thereon by the President may rest on sound advice and accurate information.”

The NSC shall be constituted, according to Executive Order 34 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001, with the President as Chairperson and members including the Vice President, Senate President, and House Speaker, among others.