“It is our principled stand that the peace in the West Philippine Sea should be maintained and that China should avoid performing acts that will place at risk the Filipino fishermen fishing in the disputed areas,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
AFP
Palace tells China: Stop disrupting peace in SCS
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - April 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — In another rare reproach of China, Malacañang yesterday called for a stop to harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese forces in waters within Philippine territory, warning it could sour “currently friendly relations” between the two countries.

“It is our principled stand that the peace in the West Philippine Sea should be maintained and that China should avoid performing acts that will place at risk the Filipino fishermen fishing in the disputed areas,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said. 

He was reacting to a declaration by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang that the Spratly Islands have always been part of China’s territory that it calls Nansha.

Malacañang’s pronouncement came ahead of President Duterte’s attendance at the 2nd Belt and Road Forum later this month in Beijing.

Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, called on Beijing not to allow “irritants that will disrupt the current friendly relations of the two countries as well as imperil future bilateral negotiations on matters of mutual concern.”

Panelo also urged Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to issue an official statement on the matter. “As a matter of protocol, we expect our Philippine counterpart, the Department of Foreign Affairs, to issue an official statement on the matter,” he said.

While the Philippines agrees with the Chinese official’s appeal that the maritime dispute be resolved through peaceful means, Panelo said Beijing should take note of a 2016 ruling by an arbitral court invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim.

“We remain steadfast in maintaining our claims with respect to our territory and exclusive economic zones, pursuant not only to the said arbitral judgment based on accepted principles of public international law, but consistent with the directives of our Constitution and the aspirations of the Filipino people” Panelo said.

For Locsin, China is embarrassing the Philippine government with its activities inside the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

In an exchange on social media platform Twitter, Locsin on Friday disputed a claim that China took advantage of the Duterte administration’s rapport with Beijing.

“No. They came in when we were rude under PNoy. And when we were welcoming under GMA; and clueless under FVR,” he said, referring to former presidents Benigno Aquino III, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Fidel Ramos.

“What is disappointing is that despite our friendliness and uninterrupted friendship, China continually embarrasses our government by swarming all over OUR exclusive economic zone,” the foreign affairs chief added.

He also urged his followers to stop “blaming the past for the present power of China to do as it pleases.”

“US never recognized Chiang Kai-shek’s silly claim that (South China Sea) belonged to China as he was about to lose China to the communists US hated. Stop blaming the past and others for what China is doing today. Grow up,” he said.

Locsin in recent days has been vocal against Chinese activities in the South China Sea.

In a statement on April 4, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) described the presence of Chinese vessels in Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island as illegal.

“Such actions are a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, as defined under international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” it said.

“Moreover, it has been observed that Chinese vessels have been present in large numbers and for sustained and recurring periods – what is commonly referred to as ‘swarming’ tactics – raising questions about their intent as well as concerns over their role in support of coercive objectives,” added the DFA.

“The stand is that it is ours. And they took it. World’s highest court ruled that. Period. Now the question is how to take it back,” Locsin said.

“I personally have no fear of war. One attack on a public vessel triggers World War 3 with the (United States) which is impervious to attack from Asia,” he said in a tweet in last Wednesday.

In another tweet on Friday, Locsin said Panelo “said it perfectly” when the latter said that the Chinese fishing boats have no business to be in Philippine-occupied features.

He also said that “China is pretty close to exceeding” the limits that come with its ties with the Philippine government.

US only possible ally

Still on Twitter, Locsin said yesterday the United States is the country’s only possible military ally.

Responding to a question on procuring weapons from countries other than the US, the foreign affairs chief stressed that the compatibility issues raised by the Department of Defense are real.

“Other countries sell great equipment to Vietnam (like Russian AK47s which are superb) but we would face US sanctions. We get pistols from variety of countries all first class,” he said.

The secretary earlier said that he wants the US to re-arm the Philippine military.

Following a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in March, Locsin described enhancing the Philippine’s self-defense capability as the “wisest” alternative that the US can take amid concerns over China’s aggression in the region.

“The wisest most expeditious alternate to one or the other view is for the US to help re-arm our military (it prefers US weaponry as I kept telling the US) and enhance our self-defense capability; leaving the initial decision to fight to us in our best light,” he wrote on twitter. –  Janvic Mateo

CHINA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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