Ex-SC Justice Calls for Environmental Damage Suit Against China

Dumaguete City—Former Supreme Court Justice Francis Jardeleza on Sunday urged the Philippine government to file an environmental damage suit against China before the issue over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is overshadowed by the 2025 midterm elections. Speaking at the 111th Commencement Exercises of Silliman University, Jardeleza expressed optimism that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration will take concrete steps to protect the country’s territory, given the President’s role as the “chief architect of foreign policy.”

According to Philippines News Agency, the President is on “the right track” and needs to be convinced to file or pursue another case against China regarding the environmental damage allegedly caused in the WPS. He emphasized that diplomatic solutions may not be sufficient to counter the escalating aggression. “The President is cultivating the Americans for the Mutual Defense Treaty, all of the allies in the ASEAN, the Europeans, and so we are gaining ground,” Jardeleza said.

Jardeleza, who served as solicitor general from 2012 to 2014 under the late President Benigno Aquino III and led the Philippine legal team in the South China Sea arbitration, urged students and faculty to support calls for filing an environmental damage suit against China. He noted that Silliman University has researchers and environmental experts who could assist in gathering evidence for the case.

Jardeleza argued that by filing such a suit, the Philippines could claim significant compensation to fund the protection of the WPS. The encroachment on the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone has destroyed thousands of hectares of marine life, impacting the livelihoods of Filipinos dependent on the WPS.

The National Security Council has already challenged China to allow third-party inspectors to verify the condition of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) following the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s denial of environmental destruction. NSC Assistant Director General and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya stated, “In the face of China’s repeated denials, we call on China to open up Bajo de Masinloc to international inspection and we also call on third-party inspectors from relevant United Nations bodies or respected environmental organizations to determine the true situation therein in order to protect the environment.”