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Philippines Considers Legal Action Over China’s Detention Policy

Senators in the Philippines are calling for the government to consider legal action against China in response to its recently announced policy of detaining foreigners for up to 60 days without trial in waters Beijing claims as its territory.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Tolentino believe the new policy violates international law and could be challenged before tribunals like the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) or the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Philippines previously won a case against China in 2016 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which ruled that China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, marked by the “nine-dash line,” had no legal basis. China has refused to acknowledge this ruling.

The new policy, set to take effect in June, authorizes the China Coast Guard (CCG) to detain foreigners suspected of violating Chinese regulations in disputed waters. Senators believe this not only directly challenges the Philippines’ rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but could also further escalate tensions, a situation the international community closely monitors.

Hontiveros, recognizing the gravity of the situation, urged the government to seek immediate and robust support from allies like the United States, Japan, and Australia to counter China’s actions through joint patrols in the Philippine EEZ. The need for international solidarity in this matter cannot be overstated.

Senators pointed out that only the coastal state has authority over its EEZ under international law. China’s claims far exceed the limits established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Philippines has reaffirmed its commitment to the 2016 PCA ruling, which it considers “final and indisputable.” China’s new policy is seen as an attempt to undermine this decision.

The Philippine government is expected to decide its course of action in the coming weeks. The international community is closely watching the rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea