APEC leaders told to speak up on maritime disputes

Women activists hold a protest against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) during a meeting in Quezon City on Wednesday. The group slammed what it called as a "grand conspiracy to push the military and political agenda of imperialist domination" over women and poor people in the region.(MNS photo)

Women activists hold a protest against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) during a meeting in Quezon City on Wednesday. The group slammed what it called as a “grand conspiracy to push the military and political agenda of imperialist domination” over women and poor people in the region.(MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez, one of the convenors of the Movement and Alliance to Resist China’s Aggression, led his colleagues in urging the heads of the economies participating in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next week to speak up regarding the controversial maritime disputes in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Golez argued that the waterway has been a vital shipping route in the world, which is why ensuring freedom of navigation in the area is not just a security matter but also an economic matter.

He added that any disruption in the freedom of navigation will affect trade in the area.

APEC has usually stuck to discussing economic matters only while avoiding discussions of thornier political issues.

In a manifesto read by Golez before a news forum in Quezon City, the group said China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea threaten the stability of the Asia Pacific, particularly because China forbids vessels from other countries from going near their structures in the disputed waters.

Golez also said that China’s construction in the disputed waters has destroyed coral reefs and other marine resources that affect one of the largest ecosystems in the world which in turn affect the livelihood of people.

Golez said the reclamation activities of China in the disputed waters also impact on the fishing industries in the region, affecting about 300 million people.

Aside from calling on APEC to discuss the maritime dispute, Golez said APEC should also condemn China’s nine-dash claim on the disputed waters, and ask China to stop construction and reclamation and to uphold international law by subjecting itself to the arbitration case filed by the Philippines.

China, Vietnam and the Philippines are some of the APEC member economies who have been locked in a maritime dispute over the South China Sea.

The Philippines is hosting the APEC Summit next week.(MNS)

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