This Jan. 1, 2018 satellite image shows China's installations on Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
CSIS/AMTI via DigitalGlobe
Philippines protests China's self-declared South China Sea districts, naming of Kalayaan features
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - April 30, 2020 - 4:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government opposed China's latest moves in the South China Sea while the rest of the world is preoccupied with the deadly COVID-19, which first emerged from Wuhan City late last year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said the government "strongly protests" China's establishment of two districts in the South China Sea.

Earlier this month, Beijing established the districts of Nansha (Spratly Islands) and Xisha (Paracel Islands), which would be under the administrative jurisdiction of its self-declared Sansha City.

The DFA said the Philippine government does not recognize Sansha City, nor its constituent units, as it overlaps with the country's maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea.

"The Philippine government has protested since 2012 China’s unlawful establishment of Sansha City and the extent of its administrative jurisdiction, which encompasses Philippine territory and maritime zones in the West Philippine Sea," the DFA said in a statement.

Beijing's establishment of the two new districts in the South China Sea violate Philippine territorial sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, the DFA said.

China's latest actions in the contested waterway also infringes on the country's sovereign rights over the waters and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea, the statement read.

"The unanimous Award issued by the Tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the arbitration instituted by the Philippines has comprehensively addressed China’s excessive claims and illegal actions in the South China Sea," the DFA said.

The Philippines does not also recognize China's naming of some features in the KIG, which falls under the jurisdiction of Palawan province.

Pointing out that Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef is within the LIG and an integral part of Philippine territory, the DFA also protested the designation of the reef as administrative center for the so-called Nansha district.

Kagitingan Reef is one of China's three artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, where it had installed surface-to-air missiles and radio jamming equipment in recent years.

"The Philippines calls on China to adhere to international law, including the UNCLOS, as well as to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, specifically Paragraph 5 thereof, under which parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability," the statement read.

Just last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. confirmed that two diplomatic protests were filed at the Chinese Embassy over "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 said both moves from Beijing constitute "violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty."

In February, a Chinese navy vessel pointed its radar gun to a Philippine Navy ship near the Malampaya gas field in the West Philippine Sea.

Vice Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the military's Western Command, confirmed this incident which was reported to the commanding officer of BRP Conrado Yap.

The Philippine Navy's BRP Conrado Yap sailed out of Puerto Princesa City on February 15 to patrol the Malampaya gas field and the Kalayaan Islands Group in the West Philippine Sea.

On February 17, the Philippine Navy ship detected a radar contact of a vessel while sailing to Rizal Reef.

The Conrado Yap issued a radio warning to the Chinese navy ship but the latter responded that "the Chinese government has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea, its islands and its adjacent waters." — with report from Roel Pareño

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 30, 2020 - 4:15pm

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

April 30, 2020 - 4:15pm

The Philippines says it strongly protests "the establishment of the so-called districts of 'Nansha' and 'Xisha' under the supposed administrative jurisdiction of its self-declared 'Sansha City'" which would cover parts of the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs says it has protested since 2012 the "unlawful establishment of Sansha City" that includes Philippine territory and maritime zones in the WPS, including the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc.

The Philippines also protests the dseignation of Kagitingan Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group "as adinistrative center for the so-called 'Nansha district'," saying the reef is part of the KIG and an integral part of Philippine territory.

April 27, 2020 - 1:41pm

Sen. Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution to urge the executive branch to "exert legal and diplomatic pressure" on China over its activities in the West Philippine and to have the regional giant pay for enviromental damage in the area.

"China's sense of entitlement to our seas has caused severe and irreparable harm to our ecosystems," Hontiveros says in a statement on the filing of Philippine Senate Resolution No. 369.

Even if the Senate, the majority of which supports the Duterte administration and its foreign policy with China, adopts the resolution, it is non-binding on the executive branch.

"Hindi tayo kolonya, kaya panahon nang singilin ng gobyerno ang Tsina (We are not a colony so it's about time that we have China pay)," she also says.

In her resolution, Hontiveros says "unlawful Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea are estimated to have caused at last P33 billion in damage annually to marine ecosystems within the Philippines' continental shelf and exclusive economic zone" since 2013, the year that the Philippines filed its arbitration case.

April 22, 2020 - 7:59pm

The Philippines has sent the Chinese Embassy two diplomatic protests, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. says on his Twitter account.

He says the protests are on "1. on the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippines waters and 2. [on] declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province—both violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty."

September 15, 2019 - 4:22pm

Vice President Leni Robredo chides presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, telling him that he should be better informed of what exactly President Duterte has stated before presenting his own "interpretation," so they can stop contradicting each other in public.

Her statement comes after Panelo called her out for "misplaced and flamboyant remarks" in response to the president's remark about ignoring the arbitral ruling for a joint oil and gas exploration deal with China.

"Litong lito talaga ako, kasi ang sinasabi ni pangulo, iba sa sinasabi niya. Nagsabi si pangulo na i-set aside iyong arbitral ruling; ang sabi niya, hindi iyon iyong gustong sabihin," Robredo says on her weekly radio show, BISErbisyong LENI on RMN-DZXL 558.

Robredo says the administration should put a stop to this "practice" as contradictions between the president's statements and Panelo's "clarifications" only make things even more confusing for the people. 

August 20, 2019 - 8:59pm

The White House accuses China of "bullying tactics" in the increasingly tense waters of the South China Sea and says it will resist Beijing on the dispute.

"China’s recent escalation of efforts to intimidate others out of developing resources in the South China Sea is disturbing," President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton tweets.

"The United States stands firmly with those who oppose coercive behavior and bullying tactics which threaten regional peace and security."




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