PH not accepting China’s ‘legal possession’ of WPS – Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   July 26, 2019   •   1647

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration does not recognize China’s claim of ‘legal possession’ of the West Philippine Sea (WPS), according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

This was Panelo’s response following the statement from Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that the Presidential Spokesperson’s remarks regarding China’s ‘legal possession’ of WPS have weakened the Philippines’ position on the decades-long maritime dispute.

“Kasi by historical right daw, they’ve been there all the while. Kaya hindi ba sinasabi nila? In fact, iyan nga ang argument nila (That’s what they have been saying and that has been their argument),” Panelo said.

When asked if the Philippines recognizes China’s claim, Panelo said: “Of course not!”

“We’re not. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been ruled to be, owning, that portion of territory or we have the exclusive right to particular territories,” he stressed.

President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned in his recent state of the nation address (SONA) that China’s reclamation activities in the WPS show claims that it is ‘in possession’ of the disputed waters.

But his top security officials Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon both insisted that what the President meant was China is ‘in position’ in the WPS and not ‘in possession’ of the area.

“Paulit-ulit nang sinasabi ni Presidente (The president has said time and again): According to them [China], they own it. As far as they are concerned, legally, it’s theirs,” Panelo said.

“Tayo naman (While on our part), as far as we are concerned it’s also legally ours. Kaya nga nagkakaroon ng conflict, kasi (That’s why conflict arises because) both of us are claiming. Ang problema lang (The problem here is), as the President repeatedly said and as stated also by the two security defense officials, they are in positional advantage. Kami ni Presidente, (The President and I believe,) they’re in possession – constructive possession because of their military hardware situated there. Iyon ang ibig sabihin noon (That’s what it means),” he concluded. – with details from Rosalie Coz

Statements of ‘alter-egos’ also reflect Duterte’s stand on West PH Sea issue — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said there is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to speak on China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea, saying the strong statements of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense (DND) also reflects the president’s stance on the issue.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement to dispel notions that Duterte has been silent on the reported number of Chinese vessels still lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Doctrine of qualified political doctrine, kapag po hindi dini-dis-own ng president ang mga sinasabi ng kaniyang mga alter-egos, parang siya na po ang nagsasalita, hindi na kailangang siya ang magsalita,” Roque said in an online briefing.

The Palace official was referring to a Constitutional Doctrine which states that “utterances of alter egos are utterances of the President unless the president renounces them.”

Roque also reiterated that Duterte already stressed the importance of the 2016 Hague Ruling on the West Philippine Sea and that the Philippines will not set aside the landmark decision.

The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea earlier reported that at least 240 Chinese vessels were found lingering in various parts of the West Philippine Sea during its latest sovereignty patrols in the area.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier demanded the immediate withdrawal of the remaining Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, telling the ships to sail away and for the Chinese to “leave our sovereign territories and abide by the international law.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also repeatedly fired off diplomatic protests and called for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese vessels in the disputed waters.

AFP to deploy 3 more navy ships to patrol in West PH Sea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will deploy three additional navy ships to patrol the West Philippine Sea.

According to AFP Chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana the navy ships will continue to patrol around the disputed islands and will add more ships.

Ginagawa natin ang ating sovereignty patrol at mayroon tayong (We are conducting our sovereignty patrol and we have) resupply or re-prepositioning of our deployed forces in our different shoals and reef,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United States’ Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal remain in the South China Sea for routine operation.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez previously stated that the US deployed the said ships in the disputed areas to maintain freedom of navigation and to protect the seaway in the region.

Sobejana said the presence of the US warships would be impactful.

Alam naman ng China na we have an existing Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US. Isa sa topic na napag-usapan namin ay ang coverage ng MDT. Kasi lately napag-alaman ng lahat na (China knows that we have an existing Mutual Defense Treaty with the US. One of the topics we have discussed is the coverage of the MDT. Because, lately, we learned that) there was so-called harassment against a civilian Filipino boat,” Sobejana said.

The Philippines already deployed four navy ships apart from the three additional naval vessels. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Palace cites recent responses to tensions in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday cited the Philippine government’s recent responses to the developments in the West Philippine Sea following calls for China to withdraw its vessels spotted in various parts of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests and deployed more ships for maritime patrols in the contested waters in an attempt to peacefully settle the issue.

Roque also said that the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) “has always been consistent” in invoking Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

He further stated that President Rodrigo Duterte already stressed the importance of the 2016 Hague Ruling on the West Philippine Sea and that the Philippines will not set aside the landmark decision.

“President Rodrigo Duterte underscored the importance of 2016 Arbitral Ruling before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly,” he said, referring to Duterte’s virtual attendance to the UNGA session in September last year.

It can be recalled that during the UN assembly, Duterte asserted the Philippines’ rights over the disputed waters even if China continues to ignore the ruling.

Roque also noted that the Department of Foreign Affairs has earlier filed an appropriate diplomatic protest against China and summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian over the Julian Felipe Reef situation.

He also said that the presence of Philippine maritime security and law enforcement forces have been stepped up in the municipality of Kalayaan to protect Filipino fishermen and the marine resources.

Roque issued the statement after Filipino business groups joined the call on China to withdraw its maritime militia and Navy vessels in the Philippines’ EEZ.

The NTF-WPS earlier reported that at least 240 Chinese vessels were found lingering in various parts of the West Philippine Sea during its latest sovereignty patrols in the area.

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