The International Arbitral Tribunal, formed under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in the Hague in Netherlands is set to rule on the arbitration case filed by Manila against Beijing. But days prior to its scheduled ruling on the 12th of July, a new issues of travesty committed by China in the areas of dispute has surfaced and gained traction in the social media recently.
[wp_ad_camp_1] A video footage has been uploaded to a Facebook group called Kalayaan ATIN ITO and went viral online. The said video footage documents graphic images of dead aquatic organisms (i.e. fishes and other sea creatures) floating in the shorelines of Pagasa Island. The post claims that Chinese personnel are responsible for this environmental travesty – after they deliberately dumped chemical and toxic wastes in the disputed waters. The post claims further that this deliberate act is done to sabotage the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolks, and undermine the environmental integrity of the area.
Pag-asa Island, also known as Thitu Island, is part of the Kalayaan Municipality. Kalayaan is a fifth class municipality in the Philippine province of Palawan in the Spratly archipelago, situated within the South China Sea. Kalayaan municipality, which includes the Pag-asa (Thitu) island, is 280 nautical miles northwest of Puerto Princesa and 932 kilometres (579 mi) south-west of Metro Manila. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 222 people consisting of a single barangay located on Pag-asa Island, which also serves as the seat of the municipal government. It is the smallest municipality in the Philippines.
Pag-asa Island has a dilapidated airstrip, a 5-bed lying-in clinic, and a small elementary school. Its population’s primary livelihood is agriculture and fishery.