A bill designating July 12 as West Philippine Sea Day to mark the country’s unprecedented international court victory against China has been filed in the House of Representatives.

The Makabayan bloc filed the measure under House Bill 8583 which designates July 12 as West Philippine Sea day to celebrate the decision, issued on that day in 2016, by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that upheld the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea, outlawed Chinese aggression in common fishing ground areas and ultimately rejected China’s expansive nine-dash-line claim of the entire South China Sea.

China has refused to recognize the Hague ruling to this day.

The Makabayan bloc is composed of House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers, House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela and Representative Raoul Manuel of Kabataan party-list.

“This is to commemorate the historic Hague ruling and its impact on the country’s territorial claims and marine resources and calls for the implementation of educational campaigns, seminars, and forums to inform the Filipino people, especially the youth, about the significance of the Hague ruling,” the lawmakers said in their Resolution.

“These activities aim to foster a sense of patriotism and vigilance in protecting the West Philippine Sea,” they added.

Likewise, the bill provides for resolving disputes in the West Philippine Sea through peaceful means and the rule of law as well as encourages diplomatic efforts to assert the country’s rights and promote cooperation among neighboring countries.

Further, the bill underscores the need to safeguard the economic and ecological importance of  the West Philippine Sea, as well as the rights and welfare of Filipino fishermen who rely on the West Philippine Sea for their livelihood.

“This [bill] calls for the provision of support and assistance to ensure their safety and sustainable access to marine resources. In view of the foregoing, the passage of this bill is earnestly sought,” the lawmakers said.

“By commemorating the West Philippine Sea Day, we can reinforce the significance of the 2016 Hague ruling and promote the protection of our nation’s sovereign rights and marine wealth,” they added.

Just last June, fisherfolk in Pag-asa island have said that the Chinese blockade is making their life difficult, if not leaving them hungry. — BM, GMA Integrated News