Defending Philippine Coast Guard: Equipping with Water Cannons to Counter Chinese Harassment

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Equipping Philippine Coast Guard with Water Cannons to Defend Against Harassment by Chinese Vessels

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III has proposed that Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ships be equipped with water cannons to effectively respond to Chinese vessels that use this tactic to harass Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. Pimentel made this suggestion following an incident on April 30, where China Coast Guard and Chinese militia vessels water cannoned and rammed PCG and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessels that were en route to Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) to provide food and supplies to Filipino fishermen.

Pimentel emphasized the need for PCG vessels to have their own water cannons to counteract those who violate Philippine laws and infringe upon the country’s sovereign rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). He stated, “Because we should be able to water cannon too those who we believe are violating our laws and sovereign rights up to our EEZ.” Pimentel further argued that water cannons should be considered standard equipment for PCG vessels, as they are an effective means for coast guards to drive away intruders. He questioned why this measure was not already in place, considering that water cannons have been standard equipment on coast guard ships for decades.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea has affirmed its commitment to acting peacefully and responsibly, in accordance with the rules-based international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the valid and binding 2016 arbitral award. The Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, Netherlands, invalidated China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea, which encroached on the Philippines’ EEZ. However, China rejected the ruling, dismissing it as “null and illegal.”

The task force emphasized that peace and stability in the region can only be achieved if all countries, regardless of size, respect the well-established and legally settled rights of others. It further asserted that the Philippines will not be deterred from pursuing legitimate and lawful activities within its maritime zones, including Bajo de Masinloc, which is a vital source of livelihood for Filipino fisherfolk.

The Significance of Equipping PCG with Water Cannons

The proposal to equip Philippine Coast Guard ships with water cannons holds significant importance in safeguarding the country’s maritime interests and protecting the rights of Filipino fishermen. By providing PCG vessels with this defensive capability, the Philippines can effectively respond to acts of harassment and intimidation by Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

Water cannons serve as a non-lethal means of deterrence, allowing coast guards to repel intruders without resorting to the use of force. The powerful jets of water can create a physical barrier, preventing hostile vessels from approaching and endangering the safety of Filipino fishermen. Moreover, the use of water cannons can send a strong message to those who violate international laws and encroach upon the Philippines’ sovereign rights, asserting the country’s determination to protect its maritime territories.

International Law and the Philippines’ Stance

The Philippines’ position is firmly grounded in international law, particularly UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the use and management of the world’s oceans and their resources. The 2016 arbitral award, which invalidated China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea, reaffirmed the Philippines’ rights over its EEZ and exposed the illegitimacy of China’s actions.

Despite China’s rejection of the ruling, the Philippines remains steadfast in upholding the principles and provisions of UNCLOS. The country asserts that peace and stability in the region can only be achieved when all nations respect the rights of others and adhere to the rules-based international order.

By equipping PCG vessels with water cannons, the Philippines demonstrates its commitment to defending its maritime interests while upholding the principles of international law. The use of water cannons as a defensive measure aligns with the country’s peaceful and responsible approach in addressing disputes and maintaining stability in the West Philippine Sea.

In conclusion, the proposal to equip Philippine Coast Guard ships with water cannons is a proactive step towards protecting Filipino fishermen and asserting the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea. By utilizing non-lethal means of deterrence, such as water cannons, the Philippines can effectively respond to acts of harassment and intimidation by Chinese vessels. This measure aligns with the country’s commitment to international law and its determination to safeguard its maritime territories.

Source: The Manila Times

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