“Fire diplomatic protest over Chinese warship; drop the diplomatic crap; say it is ours period; they’re trespassing,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs.
AFP/Guang Niu
Diplomatic protest filed over Chinese warships
Helen Flores, Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Another diplomatic protest against Beijing has been “fired off,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said yesterday amid reports of repeated intrusions by Chinese warships into Philippine waters.

“Fire diplomatic protest over Chinese warship; drop the diplomatic crap; say it is ours period; they’re trespassing,” Locsin said in a tweet to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs.

He informed the Senate committee on foreign relations of his move at a hearing yesterday.

Locsin said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s word is enough to convince him of the need for another diplomatic protest.

“If we did it already, fire another. We won’t run out. & don’t wait for formal intel. This is the Secretary of National Defense no less. Fire at will,” he said. Lorenzana said over the weekend that China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea had become an “irritant.”

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana earlier said Chinese warships had sailed through the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi at least three more times this month.

Incursions by Chinese warships in Sibutu, which is part of Philippine territory, were also reported in July and as early as February, Lorenzana said.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo welcomed the latest filing of a diplomatic protest, saying the issue of Chinese incursion was a “legitimate concern.”

“Whatever the secretary of foreign affairs does with respect to any issue concerning China, unless the President makes a different policy statement, that is the policy of the Office of the President,” Panelo said.

In an interview with ANC News, Panelo said Lorenzana had a reason to feel irritated by China’s actions in Philippine waters.

“It’s becoming an irritant if you keep on repeating certain acts that may be viewed to be in violation of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and not as an act of friendship between two countries,” he said.

He said Duterte will raise the matter in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in China late this month.

“I feel that since we’re friends, any issue can be discussed and threshed out,” Panelo said.

At the Senate, Locsin said he had no reason to doubt Lorenzana’s appreciation of the issue.

“Since it is the Secretary of National Defense who has spoken, fire off the diplomatic protest against China. And if we have already filed one on the Chinese warships fire off another. We will never run out of those,” Locsin told the committee chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

“And in doing so please make it explicit – the message –  and to drop diplomatic language,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked whether such filings meant the country continues to assert its sovereignty or sovereign rights over its waters, and was not consenting to the intrusions.

“Yes, that’s why we are doing it,” the foreign affairs chief replied.

Drilon said the Philippines must continue to file diplomatic protests whenever applicable as the country cannot militarily confront China for the intrusions “otherwise we will be deemed to be accepting their incursions into our territory.”  – With Alexis Romero

CHINA CHINESE WARSHIPS OFFICE OF ASIA AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA
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