Gordon lauds Locsin for filing diplomatic protest vs China’s new law

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2021   •   437

MANILA, Philippines – A senator on Thursday commended Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for filing a diplomatic protest against a new law passed by China that allows its coast guard to shoot foreign vessels in the contested areas in South China Sea.

“I commend Secretary Locsin for taking a very important and valiant action by standing up for our rights. He did right by our country, and we support him wholeheartedly,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Senate Committee on justice and human rights, said in a statement.

Locsin on Wednesday said he has filed a diplomatic protest against China for its new law, which he called a “verbal threat of war” to any country that defies it.

China’s legislative body last week passed the law that allows its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

“When another country claims the oceans surrounding us, which we claim, even threatens to demolish our fishing boats or fishing boats of any country that get to that ocean or that sea, this is a serious cause for concern. This is a shot in the bow of all the claimants in the territories,” Gordon said.

Other senators have also expressed concern over the measure that could endanger the lives of Filipino fishermen who venture in the disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and 3 other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. 

AFP recommends building structures in West PH Sea to assert sovereignty

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has recommended building structures in the West Philippine Sea to boost the country’s presence in the disputed territories.

AFP Chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said it would take two to three months for the country’s maritime vessels to go around the West Philippine Sea. He also added that the country’s naval assets are not enough to patrol given the scope of the area.

Due to this, the AFP and the Philippine Navy continue their modernization; however, there is a need for additional budget.

“Dagdagan ang ating modernization fund para mas marami tayong mabiling sasakyang pandagat. At isa pa itong ating procurement law kung saan napaka-rigid. Ang hirap bumili ng pangangailangan ng ating Armed Forces of the Philippines (Increase our modernization fund so that we can procure naval vessels. One more thing, the procurement law is also rigid. It is difficult to procure for the needs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines),he said.

Aside from additional naval ships, the AFP also recommends building structures including cold storage facilities, light houses, and rest areas for Filipino fishermen.

“We are also entertaining the idea, of course, subject to the wisdom of NTF-WPS na magtatayo ng istruktura sa naturang lugar katulad ng ginagawa rin ng China. Kasi ang dahilan kung bakit hindi tayo nagtatayo diyan noong araw kasi may napag-uusapan na wala dapat magpatayo (to build structures in the said areas similar to what China has done. We did not build any structures there previously because it was discussed not to do so),” Sobejana said.

Meanwhile, the AFP did not elaborate if the structures would also include military headquarters. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

No PH-China ‘verbal fishing deal’ in West Philippine Sea — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday denied allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte made a “verbal fishing agreement” with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed the claims as “conjecture” and “without basis.”

“There is no truth to the speculation of a purported “verbal fishing agreement” between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping, nor Chinese vessels were encouraged to stay in the West Philippine Sea despite the diplomatic protests and strongly-worded statements of Philippine government officials,” he said.

Roque said that a fishing agreement under the Philippine domestic laws can only be done through a treaty.

“Per Article 2 (1) (a) of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties, a treaty is an international agreement concluded between States in written form,” he said.

“Clearly, a treaty must be in writing. No such treaty or agreement exists between the Philippines and China,” he added.

The Palace official, however, clarified that non-commercial fishing activities may be allowed in local waters as part of traditional fishing rights.

“The President does not condone unlawful commercial fishing by any state on Philippine waters,” Roque said.

“However, the President also recognizes that subsistence (non-commercial) fishing may be allowed as a recognition of the traditional fishing rights pointed out by the Arbitral Tribunal itself in its Award on Jurisdiction (para. 407) in the case between the Philippines and China,” he added.

Roque called on critics to “stop making malicious speculations and false claims made to pointlessly inflame the situation.”

“We ask everyone to just focus our time and effort on productive activities that will enable us to help one another at this time of the pandemic,” he said.

DFA files new diplomatic protest over continued presence of Chinese vessels in PH waters

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has filed two new diplomatic protests against China over the “illegal presence” of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced in a statement on Friday (April 23).

The DFA said it lodged two new diplomatic notes on April 21 in protest of the continued deployment, presence and activities  of Chinese vessels in Philippine maritime zones. The new diplomatic protest is in addition to the daily protest filed by the DFA over the presence of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

Based on reports received by the Foreign Affairs Department, as of April 20, around 160 Chinese fishing vessels and Chinese maritime militia vessels were sighted in Philippine waters. Several of them were seen in the Kalayaan Island Group, in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and the territorial waters of Bajo de Masinloc.

The DFA also said the continued threatening presence of Chinese vessels creates an atmosphere of instability and is a blatant disregard of the commitments made by China to promote peace and stability in the region.

“Through these protest, the DFA reminded China that Bajo de Masinloc, Pag-asa Islands, Panata, Parola, Kota Islands, Chigua and Burgos Reefs are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction,” the DFA said. AAC



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