Philippines vows to continue maritime patrols in South China Sea

Marco Green
May 4, 2021

The Philippines' top diplomat Teodoro Locsin unambiguously told Beijing where to go on Monday, as the government insisted Chinese vessels were still illegally lingering in the disputed South China Sea.

Locsin accuses China of straining its "friendship" with the Philippines.

Asked about his use of language, Locsin said later that 'usual suave diplomatic speak gets nothing done'. "Isn't this guy supposed to be "diplomatic"?"

Following his tweet, the Philippine Foreign Ministry in a statement accused China's coast guard of "shadowing, blocking, unsafe maneuvers, and radio challenges of the Philippine coast guard vessels" on April 24 to 25 in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc, Reuters reported.

China has no law enforcement rights in the Philippines' territorial waters, the DFA said, noting that the presence of Chinese ships in waters of Pag-asa Islands, Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone "raises serious concern".

Lorenzana said his comments echoed the stance of Duterte on the issue, citing the latter's "very firm and straightforward" orders for the Philippine military to "defend what is rightfully ours without going to war and maintain the peace in the seas".

The department said it also protested "the incessant, illegal, prolonged and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones" in the disputed waters.

During a 2016 election debate, however, he vowed to ride a jet ski to the South China Sea so as to personally make claims if he assumes office.

Both countries claim the rich fishing area, which China effectively seized in 2012 by surrounding it with its coast guard and surveillance ships after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels.

The escalating feud between Manila and Beijing started after more than 200 Chinese vessels suspected by Philippine authorities to be operated by militias were spotted in early March at Whitsun Reef. China claims virtually all of the South China Sea. The Philippine government demanded the vessels leave, then deployed coast guard vessels to the area.

The DFA is rejecting China's claim of sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc, noting that the claim, made by the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 26, was "without basis in global law" and is "not recognized by the worldwide community".

Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, is a triangle-shaped chain of reefs in the South China Sea that lies around 120 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine coast and 470 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China. China has constructed several man-made islands in the disputed waters in what the USA says is a move to militarise the area.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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