(Eagle News)–The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it strongly deplores the conduct of any activity that leads to the damage or destruction of coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea, as the agency expressed readiness to support any legal options the Philippines may pursue in the event of marine environment destruction.
The DENR issued the statement after the Philippine military expressed suspicions about a harvesting of corals by China in Rozul Reef.
The military said it had observed damaged corals in the same during an assessment held after they drove away Chinese vessels from the area in July.
The Western Command had also noted what it said was the “concerning resurgence” of Chinese fishing vessels in certain parts of the West Philippine Sea.
In its statement, the DENR also drew attention to article 192 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which aims to protect and preserve the ocean, joining the call for signatory states to adhere to the same.
The DENR emphasized that the ocean regulates the world’s climate, “and it is the source of livelihood, food security, and cultural identity of all coastal states.”
Coral reefs, it said, “are an integral part of the beneficial functioning of the marine environment.”
“Harmful human interference, such as the destruction and illegal exploitation of any part of our marine ecosystem is a loss, not only to our country but to our region and to the world,” it said.
“DENR understands that the concerned government agencies are exploring the legal options that the country may pursue. The DENR is ready support and be guided by them on these matters,” it added.