Duterte bans Philippines from joining naval exercises in South China Sea
In this May 5, 2019 photo, the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), upper left, transits international waters of the South China Sea with the Indian navy destroyer INS Kolkata (D 63) and tanker INS Shakti (A 57); the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH 183) and destroyer JS Murasame (DD 101); and the Republic of the Philippines navy patrol ship BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS 17).
US Navy/Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force/Released
Duterte bans Philippines from joining naval exercises in South China Sea
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - August 4, 2020 - 9:58am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will no longer be participating in joint maritime exercises in the South China Sea with other countries, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

According to Lorenzana, President Rodrigo Duterte issued this directive to reduce tension in the contested waterway.

"President Rodrigo Duterte has a standing order to us, to me, that we should not involve ourselves in naval exercises in the South China Sea except our national waters, the 12 mile distance from our shores," Lorenzana said at an online press briefing.

Just last month, the United States declared that it would treat China's pursuit of resources in the South China Sea as illegal. Beijing rejected this, claiming that the accusation was "unjustified."

The US, along with allies such as Australia, has been recently conducting joint maritime exercises in the South China Sea following its latest policy on the maritime disputes.

"If one country’s action is considered as belligerent, another tension will normally rise, so I hope that all the parties in this exercise will have, will work on their actions there, to exercise prudence and carefulness so that there will be no miscalculations that could further increase the tension," the defense chief said.

Duterte: I am 'inutil'

In his penultimate State of the Nation Address last week, Duterte admitted that he is "useless" on the West Philippine Sea issue as China has "possession" of the area. The West Philippine Sea is the portion of the South China Sea which is within Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The president, once again, insisted that asserting the Philippines' sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea would entail going to war with China.

"China is claiming it, we are claiming it. China has the arms. We do not have it. So, it's simple as that," Duterte said.

Instead of supposedly going to war, Duterte said the issue should be treated "with a diplomatic endeavor."

"They (China) are in possession of the property, so what we can do? We have to go to war and I cannot afford it. Maybe some president can but we cannot. Inutil ako d'yan," the president said.

This, despite the Philippines' July 2016 arbitral win that invalidated China's historic nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. Beijing continues reject the ruling while Manila, under the Duterte administration, refuses to invoke the award.

Naval powers in West Philippine Sea

In response to Duterte's remarks, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the president should not say that China is in possession of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea because this is not the case.

"China does not possess Philippine EEZ which is  beyond the 12-nautical mile territorial seas of disputed islands or high-tide geologic features," Carpio said in a statement.

Carpio, part of the Philippine delegation in the South China Sea arbitration, stressed that naval power like the US, the UK, France, Australia, Japan and Canada regularly sail in the West Philippine Sea, proving that Beijing is not in possession of the area.

He also pointed out that Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are asserting their sovereign rights to their maritime zones against China's claims without going to war.

"A country does not need to go to war to assert its sovereign rights. There are lawful and peaceful means of asserting sovereign rights," Carpio earlier said.

DELFIN LORENZANA RODRIGO DUTERTE SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 27, 2020 - 9:37am

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.

August 27, 2020 - 9:37am

China said a US spy plane entered a no-fly zone used by the Chinese military for live-fire drills, branding it an act of provocation, state media said Tuesday.

The U-2 reconnaissance jet's flight over an area in northern China violated safety rules between the two nations, Xinhua reported, citing Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian.

"The US action could easily have resulted in misjudgments and even accidents," said the report, adding "that the move was an obvious provocation." — AFP

July 14, 2020 - 7:34am

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States would treat Beijing's pursuit of resources in the dispute-rife South China Sea as illegal, ramping up pressure on another front.

"We are making clear: Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them," Pompeo says in a statement.

The United States has long rejected Beijing's sweeping claims in the South ChinaSea, aligning itself with Vietnam, the Philippines and other US partners in the region. — AFP

July 3, 2020 - 7:28am

The Pentagon says it is "concerned" about Chinese military exercises around a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea, noting the maneuvers will "further destabilize" the region.

"The Department of Defense is concerned about the People's Republic of China (PRC) decision to conduct military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 1-5," the Pentagon says in a statement.

The activities "further destabilize the situation" in the area claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, it says. — AFP

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.

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