Locsin: Diplomatic protests sent to China over violations of int'l law, Philippine sovereignty

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Locsin: Diplomatic protests sent to China over violations of int'l law, Philippine sovereignty
In this Oct. 18, 2018 photo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. arrives at the Europa Building in Brussels, Belgium for the opening ceremony of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit. Read more at htIn this Oct. 18, 2018 photo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. arrives at the Europa Building in Brussels, Belgium for the opening ceremony of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit.
Presidential Photo, File

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday evening said that two diplomatic protests have been filed today at the local Chinese embassy, namely "the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in [Philippine] waters" and "declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province."

The country's top diplomat did not expound on the details of either incident but said that both constitute "violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty."

“[W]e worked on this the whole day. And that is all that will be said on it because diplomatic notes are strictly confidential between the two states parties. Period,” Locsin posted on social media Wednesday evening.

“I expect that no one else in the government will comment on it because they are not competent to do it. Only the president himself can reveal these notes of his alter ego the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and rule thereon.”

China Global Television Network has reported that Beijing has established two districts to administer the Paracel and Spratlys under Sansha City in Hainan.

Over the global coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines has maintained strong ties with China — the 'ground zero' of the virus that causes COVID 19.

RELATED: Chinese medical experts find Philippines at risk of inability to cut COVID-19 source

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is open to accepting China's offer of help and highlighted their government's outbreak response.

“Ako ang tingin ko (In my opinion), maybe there will be a time if things deteriorate that I have to call on China to help,” Duterte said in a March 12 address.

"So to the Chinese government, to the people, especially to president Xi Jinping, thank you for the consoling words. And maybe I hope it would not reach to that point, but maybe we will need your help. Salamat po (Thank you)."

RELATED: Duterte says he might seek China’s help on COVID-19 outbreak 

A day before the Philippines reported its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, Duterte also told reporters that he is not yet willing to ban flights between the country and China.

“Not yet at this time. As a matter of fact, there is no known transmission from human to human na galing (originating in) China...Mahirap ‘yang ano — sabihin mo (That’s difficult because) you suspend everything because they are not also suspending theirs and they continue to respect the freedom flights that we enjoy in their country,” Duterte said in a January 29 interview.

China has maritime disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea with the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. Over $5 trillion in trade passes yearly through the waterway.

At the height of the global health crisis, China also reportedly began building new facilities on Philippine-claimed terrorities in the West Philippine Sea.

RELATED: With world busy fighting coronavirus, China quietly builds installations on Philippine-claimed reefs

Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said that the rising power owes the Philippines billions in environmental damage and should start paying reparations that would help fund the local COVID-19 response.

“According to reports, China owes us at least P200B in reparations for its damage of reef ecosystems in the [West Philippine] Sea for more than 6 years now. China should stop its adventurism in the region, and pay reparations to the [Philippines] immediately,” the senator posted Wednesday.

“Our government already has a huge budget deficit because of COVID-19. Thus, it should demand what is rightfully ours, and use this to strengthen our health system, to increase the aid given to low-middle-income families, and to help [Filipinos] recover post-COVID.”

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, however, responded indirectly to Hontiveros, saying that China does not need to shoulder the Philippine government's COVID-19-related expenses.

“China and the Philippine are working closely to fight the common threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this trying time, it is ridiculously absurd and irresponsible to make such remarks for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains,” the embassy posted Wednesday night.

“China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea. China will continue to provide our support and assistance to the best of our ability to the Philippines, and stand together with the Philippine government and people to jointly tackle the challenges and tide over the difficulties.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque last week said that as China's "BFF," the Philippines would hopefully be prioritized if the former develops a cure for the novel coronavirus.

RELATED: Palace hopes 'BFF' China will prioritize Philippines once it develops COVID-19 vaccine

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