Philippines to protest Chinese presence near Kota Island — Palace

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Philippines to protest Chinese presence near Kota Island � Palace
This Dec. 7, 2017 satellite image from Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative shows Philippines-controlled Kota Island in the West Philippine Sea.
CSIS / AMTI via DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs will file a protest over the reported presence of Chinese militia ships in the area of Philippines-controlled Kota Island (Loaita Island) in the West Philippine Sea once the reports are validated.

At least 15 Chinese vessels, believed to be part of the Chinese maritime militia, were spotted loitering about 1 nautical mile from Kota Island last March 28, according to a report from Inquirer.net.

The Chinese boats are reportedly situated near Kota Island and Panata Island (Lankiam Cay), as well as Pag-asa Island.

"We will object to their presence. We have already filed a diplomatic protest and that applies to everything, anything that concern Chinese vessels in our territory," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Wednesday.

While Panelo insists that the Philippines had filed a diplomatic protest on the presence of Chinese ships near Pag-asa Island, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. refuses to make public the protests made against Beijing. 

The Malacañang mouthpiece said he was sure that Locsin would file a new protest over the latest developments in the West Philippine Sea.

"They cannot be intruding in our territorial property," Panelo said.

Asked about the significance of filing a diplomatic protest, Panelo said it would show that the Philippines will not tolerate the presence of Chinese boats in the country's territory.

Panelo: Chinese ships should go

Panelo added that the Chinese vessels should go away as "they have no business being there."

"While we remain friendly with respect to trade relations, we will always assert sovereignty when it is being impaired or assaulted," Panelo said.

Earlier this year, Washingtong-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative released satellite photos showing that Chinese vessels comprise the largest number of ships operating the Spratly Islands.

As early as January, at least 10 large Chinese fishing boats were seen near Kota Island, which the Philippines first took possession of in 1978.

Analysis of the satellite imagery would show that the Chinese fishing boats showed that they would often ride at anchor or transit without fishing.

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