The Department of Foreign Affairs recommended terminating the contracts of Chinese businesspeople involved in the construction of structures and militarization in the West Philippine Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin announced this on Friday in an interview with CNN Philippines, after the United States blacklisted some individuals and businesses working in the South China Sea.
“Yes. If I find that any of those companies are doing business with us, then I strongly recommend we terminate that relationship with that company,” said Locsin.
“If they were in any way involved in the reclamation, then it becomes consistent on our part to terminate any contract with them. But of course, since the contract has already been entered in, they could sue us back,” he added.
China is currently building various military structures and circling the West Philippine Sea even though it was awarded as an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines in 2016.
Chinese damaging reefs in West Philippine Sea
China recently called the sending of military aircraft to the West Philippine Sea, an “illegal provocation” as the country files a diplomatic protest after the Chinese Coast Guard confiscated the fish aggregating devices of Filipino fishermen.
For now, Locsin is not sure if the companies listed by the United States include companies that are employed in the Philippines, something he said he would confirm with Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, Department of Trade and Industry, and National Economic and Development Authority.
Locsin is also studying whether former DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario can propose to make China pay for the damaged reefs in the West Philippine Sea.
A study by the UP Marine Science Institute shows that the Philippines is losing P33 billion due to Chinese’s damage to reefs and illegal fishing in the country’s EEZ.
“That’s always a possibility. Yes, we could do that. But if we are talking about seizing Chinese assets, I’m afraid Albert del Rosario needs to take a little rest,” Locsin said.
“This will require great thought to actually seize Chinese assets in the Philippines. And that would be those assets of those capitalists, I asume. Again, I would have to consult real lawyers to do that because as much as we could sue, we could also be sued in return,” he added.