QUEZON CITY – A group of Filipino fisherfolk is calling on the United Nations (U.N.) to declare Beijing’s controversial Coast Guard Law “null and void,” raising fear that it could be used against Philippine fishing vessels conducting fishing expeditions within Chinese-occupied waters in the West Philippine Sea.

Enacted on January 22, the Coast Guard Law explicitly empowers Chinese Coast Guard to fire at non-Chinese vessels entering Beijing-claimed territories in the South China Sea.

In a statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said Beijing’s recent legislation is “undisputedly an act of aggression” against countries challenging China’s claim over nearly the entire South China Sea, which covers 80% of the West Philippine Sea.

The fishers’ group added that the law is an “outright disregard” of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which already ruled in favor of the Philippines claim over the West Philippine Sea, and invalidated China’s 9-dash line historical claim.

We humbly appeal to the U.N. to decisively intervene on this matter by declaring the Coast Guard Law null and void as it does not only violate the international law of the sea, but it also poses threat to livelihood and security of claimant nations’ respective fisherfolk,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA called on the international community to “collectively denounce” China’s militarization and aggression of the South China Sea.

This militarization should not only concern the claimant countries, but the international community as well. It is high time for every country, claimants and non-claimants of the South China Sea to unite and put external pressure against China and uphold the freedom of navigation and innocent passage in the international waters,” said Hicap.