Cayetano 'redefining' diplomatic protest amid sea dispute, Alejano claims

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Cayetano 'redefining' diplomatic protest amid sea dispute, Alejano claims
Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) said on Wednesday that Filipino soldiers on a resupply mission on Ayungin Shoal were harassed by China's navy and coast guard, despite President Duterte's efforts to forge closer ties with Beijing.
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, in his attempt to defend the government’s actions in the dispute in the South China Sea, is trying to redefine the meaning of a “diplomatic protest,” an opposition lawmaker said on Thursday.

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo), who has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s actions in the South China Sea amid China’s growing aggressiveness, said that the Filipino people deserve more than “vague rhetoric and twisted concepts” in an issue that concerned the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The opposition lawmaker particularly criticized Cayetano’s definition of a diplomatic protest.

During a hearing of the House Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday, Cayetano claimed that the country had filed between 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China in the past two years.

Cayetano said that a simple objection by Duterte could already be considered a diplomatic protest.

“First, they changed the definition of ‘human rights.’ This time they are redefining ‘diplomatic protest’ for their convenience. In an attempt to get away from the lack of action of the Duterte administration on the West Philippine Sea issue, they are not altering the definition of diplomatic protest,” the lawmaker said.

According to the US State Department, a diplomatic protest or demarche is a request or intercession with a foreign official or a protest about the host government’s policy or actions.

According to a presentation hosted on the website of Harvard University, a demarche has five parts: its objective, arguments, background, suggested talking points and written material.

On Thursday, the Philippines quietly sent a note verbale to China amid pressure on the government to be more assertive about the country’s claims to the South China Sea, a resource-rich region through which around $3 trillion in world trade passes annually.

The note verbale, which is an informal third-person note, covered China’s installation of missile systems on three artificially-built islands in the Spratly Islands and the harassment by Chinese Navy of Filipino troops on a resupply mission on Ayungin Shoal, where a small contingent of soldiers is stationed.

Duterte’s government has been criticized for its non-confrontational stance in the sea dispute in an effort to forge closer economic ties to China.

Alejano stressed that a diplomatic protest must be in written form as it underscored the seriousness of the issue.

It also puts on record the country’s stand on the issue and will show how the Philippines responded to every violation committed to us by other states, he added.

“If, for Secretary Cayetano, simple utterances of words are already considered diplomatic protest, then what is its difference to writing on water?” he asked. “Do you expect China, which has repeatedly violated our rights in our territory, to comply over small talks and lists?”





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