Francis Tolentino

Senate Session #39 Remarks on Chinese Law Governing Coast Guard Actions in the Disputed South China/West Philippine Sea

delivered 26 January 2021


Mr. President,

Last Wednesday, last week, I wholeheartedly engaged in an interpellation, by way of interjection, our colleague from Zambales relative to a bill under consideration which will be tackled today. And I -- I interjected points on maritime law, admiralty jurisdiction, Mr. President. That was last Wednesday.

Two days thereafter, Mr. President, two days after we adjourned, it came to the attention of this representation -- and my wish, Mr. President, is that i will not be interpellated today, for the first time, because of my sincere belief that the answer to the questions will not emanate from me, that the answers to the questions, to the questions which i will pose, is lodged constitutionally in a separate office commanded by the Constitution and tasked to resolve the issues that i will now raise, Mr. President.

Last Friday, the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, passed a law, the Coast Guard Law of the People's Republic of China. The law for the first time, Mr. President, explicitly allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels -- fishing boats -- fishing boats, coast guard boats, naval boats, or any peace seeking NGO boats, Mr. President. And the law, Mr. President, will take effect February 1, six days from now.

I'm saying this, Mr. President, because a lot of our fishermen are out there. Some of our fishermen from Zambales, from Mindoro, from Palawan, from Batangas, from Cavite will also go out, Mr. President, not knowing of the existence of this newly passed law by the People's Congress of China, allowing its Coast Guard to take, and I quote --

...all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.1

-- Mr. President.

And the law was very specific, Mr. President. It specified the circumstances under which the different kinds of weapons: handheld -- I'm referring to pistols or rifles; shipborn -- I'm referring to shipborne missiles, for instance, Mr. President; or airborne -- coming from planes can be used.

Number two: The law as passed allows...the Coast Guard, the Chinese Coast Guard personnel, to demolish other countries' structures built on Chinese-claimed reefs, and to board and inspect vessels in waters claimed by China. Again, Mr. President, I worry for our fishermen coming from Zambales, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro, and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard who will venture out into that coast, Mr. President.

The law further provides, Mr. President, that the Chinese Coast Guard is now empowered to create temporary exclusion zones -- These are lock down zones -- as needed to stop other vessels and personnel from entering.

Now, Mr. President, what are the ramifications? I have no answers, Mr. President. That's why I do not wish to be interpellated. I just want to bring this to the attention of this august body because my answers, my cures probably
will be worse than the disease, Mr. President.

[remarks delivered in non-English]

Mr. President, how I wish, as that favorite -- as one of my favorite TV shows was entitled before, Wish Ko Lang! -- How I wish, Mr. President, that we were back during the pre-COVID days.

[remarks delivered in non-English]

How I wish we that situation, Mr. President. Pre-COVID days, December 20 or 19, I think, Mr. President. Or, how i wish again, Mr. President, in the international scene we were on the pre-nine dash line base, Mr. President.

[remarks delivered in non-English]

What will be the solutions, Mr. President? I really do not know. [On a] diplomatic front -- the ASEAN, perhaps? The new Biden presidency? A direct engagement with the President of the People's Republic of China? I don't know, Mr. President. How I wish we were in those days.

Let me end, Mr. President, just to make a light situation out -- out of this important legislation coming from a different jurisdiction. To quote John Denver, one of my favorite singers, in his song entitled "Children of the Universe," and I quote:

The silver dolphins twist and dance
And sing to one another
The cosmic ocean knows no bounds
For all that lives are brothers

I wish, Mr. President, that all those who are engaged in the West Philippine Sea are to be treated and to be considered as brothers.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 As quoted in this AP report

Original Audio Source:

Page Updated: 5/15/24

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Public domain per Philippine law. Audio = Uncertain.

Top 100 American Speeches

Online Speech Bank

Movie Speeches

Copyright 2001-Present. 
American Rhetoric.
HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.