Locsin vows 'more than just a protest' in case of another China coast guard incident
In this Feb. 4, 2021 screengrab, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. talks to the Senate foreign affairs committee.
YouTube screengrab/Senate of the Philippines

Locsin vows 'more than just a protest' in case of another China coast guard incident

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - February 8, 2021 - 10:45am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat assured the public that he will take steps in case of another incident with China's coast guard.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., however, noted that there has been no incident yet since Chinese legislators adopted a law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign ships that fish or conduct activities in waters claimed by China.

"If there is an incident, I can assure you it will be more than just a protest," Locsin told Karen Davila on ANC's "Headstart" on Monday morning.

Locsin earlier filed a diplomatic protest against the China Coast Guard Law, which also allows them to demolish other countries' structures on Chinese-claimed reefs.

The DFA chief stressed that the new law can be applied to areas that China claims as theirs, which is a threat of war for him as it would also cover the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within Philippine exclusive economic zone.

"There is no exact delineation of jurisdiction in the law according to them, but what if there is? There could be, and so my protest stands," Locsin said.

Asked if there is a need for dialogue with the Chinese Embassy, Locsin said the "exchange of notes is good enough."

In response to Locsin's diplomatic protest, the Chinese Embassy released a statement saying that the China Coast Guard Law was a "normal domestic legislative activity" that conforms to international conventions.

"None of these laws have been seen as a threat of war," the Chinese Embassy said.

'No need to protest before UN'

Locsin also said he will not raise the China coast guard issue before the United Nations.

Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier said the Philippines, as well as other Southeast Asian countries, could ask a UN-backed tribunal to declare the China Coast Guard Law as void.

In his February 4 column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Carpio warned that Beijing's new law, which authorizes threat of force, "is even a more blatant violation of the UN Charter and of [UN Convention on the Law of the Sea]."

Locsin, however, rejected Carpio's proposal, saying that it would "reopen" the arbitral ruling, which already invalidated China's expansive claims over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

"Chinese diplomacy has been very effective in most of the members of the United Nations and I’m not going to throw our victory to that and let them decide," Locsin said.

"There's nothing to defend, we already won," he added.

Beijing, on the other hand, continues to reject the July 2016 arbitral ruling and claims "indisputable sovereignty" over the South China Sea.

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