Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest after the military reported about the unannounced entry of Chinese vessels near Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
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DFA chief orders filing of protest over Chinese ships near Ayungin Shoal
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - October 2, 2019 - 10:13am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest over the entry of Chinese vessels near Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA chief ordered his agency to file the protest as he is in Moscow, along with President Rodrigo Duterte and other Cabinet officials.

"DO I HAVE TO FLY HOME TO FILE THE GODDAMNED DIPLOMATIC PROTEST MYSELF? THAT'S THE MILITARY SPEAKING. NOT SOME FRIGGIN' CIVILIAN MEDIA OUTLET. FILE NOW!!!" Locsin tweeted early Wednesday.

The Philippines' top diplomat made the directive in response to a BusinessWorld report that the Armed Forces of the Philippines has reported the unannounced entry of Chinese vessels near the shoal.

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Noel Clement told Senate reporters that whether or not Beijing made a violation would depend on the DFA.

"The mere presence there if there is no request for passage prior to that will have to be reported," Clement said.

Just last month, the Department of National Defense reported to the House of Representatives that a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ship blocked three Philippine civilian vessels on a resupply mission to the navy's BRP Sierra Madre.

BRP Sierra Madre has been grounded on Ayungin Shoal since 1999. It was deliberately run aground the shoal in response to Chinese reclamation on nearby Mischief Reef.

According to the DND report, the CCG ship came as close as 1,600 yards to the Philippine vessels in May. CCG ships have also been observed in the area since January.

A report from Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) also showed that CCG vessels have been patrolling Ayungin and Panatag (Scarborough) Shoals in the West Philippine Sea.

Various CCG ships have been broadcasting their position at Ayungin Shoal for 215 days in the past year while the ships positioned at Scarborough revealed their location for 162 days.

"This patrol pattern highlights an important CCG objective in the South China Sea—to create a routine, highly visible Chinese presence at key sites over which Beijing claims sovereignty but does not have any permanent facilities," the AMTI said.

AYUNGIN SHOAL CHINA DIPLOMATIC PROTEST PHILIPPINES-CHINA TIES SOUTH CHINA SEA TEODORO LOCSIN JR. WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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