No plan of permanent presence? Move ships out of West Philippine Sea, Locsin tells China
This composite photo shows Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. Locsin told China to pull out its ships in the West Philippine Sea after Zhao said Beijing does not have any plan to maintain permanent presence in Julian Felipe Reef.
YouTube screengrab/Senate of the Philippines | FMPRC/Released

No plan of permanent presence? Move ships out of West Philippine Sea, Locsin tells China

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - April 8, 2021 - 10:42am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat once again asked China to pull out its vessels in Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef after Beijing said it does not intend to maintain a permanent presence in the area.

China's foreign ministry maintained its position that the vessels spotted in the coral reef off the coast of Bataraza, Palawan were just fishing vessels and not maritime militia.

"Then tell them to move out. All of them. If they're really fishing the fish are all gone; they're just fouling the water with waste. Nobody fishes by lashing ships together," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted Wednesday night.

On Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs started filing daily diplomatic protests against the continued presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA earlier said the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest "for every day of delay."

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea initially confirmed that 220 Chinese vessels, believed to be part of China's maritime militia, were sighted moored in the waters of Julian Felipe Reef.

The DFA has since filed a diplomatic protest but Chinese vessels still remain in the area and have dispersed to other features in the West Philippine Sea.

As of March 29, 44 Chinese boats remain in Julian Felipe Reef while 115 Chinese militia ships were seen in Chigua (Kennan), 45 in Pag-asa (Thitu) Island and 50 others dispersed in Panganiban (Mischief), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) and Zamora (Subi) Reefs.

'Wanton hype-up'

China, meanwhile, urged the Philippines to stop its allegations and insisted that Julian Felipe Reef, which they call Niu'e Jiao, is part of its Nansha (Spratly) Islands.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused Philippine authorities of showing "malicious intent" by referring to Chinese fishermen as maritime militia.

"We hope the Philippines will look at this objectively and correctly, immediately stop wanton hype-up, and avoid casting negative influence on bilateral relations and the overall peace and stability in the South China Sea," Zhao said in a press briefing last Tuesday.

Zhao further claimed that the award in the South China Sea arbitration, which favored the Philippines, is "illegal, null and void."

Beijing said it will continue to oppose any action or claims based on the arbitral ruling that invalidated its expansive claims in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

"The Philippines attempts to use an illegal, null and void award to negate China's sovereignty, rights and interests, negate Chinese fishermen's fishing history and rights in their traditional fishing grounds in the Nansha Islands which have been continued for as long as a thousand of years," Zhao said.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 3, 2021 - 8:58am

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.

May 3, 2021 - 8:58am

The DFA protests the illegal presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and their belligerent actions against the Philippine Coast Guard. 

DFA also rejects the statement of Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin that China enjoys sovereignty over Panatag Shoal/Bajo de Masinloc. 

"China has no enforcement rights in these areas... The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty," the DFA says in a statement.

April 28, 2021 - 12:24pm

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. orders the filing of another diplomatic protest against China following the statement of a Chinese official on the Philippine Coast Guard's exercises in the West Philippine Sea.

"They can say what they want from the Chinese mainland; we continue to assert from our waters by right of international law what we won in The Hague. But we must not fail to protest. @DFAPHL have we fired off a diplomatic protest? Do it now," says Locsin on Twitter.

April 25, 2021 - 1:08pm

The Philippine Coast Guard sends BRP Malapascua and BRP Francisco Dagohoy (MMOV 5002) — a fisheries bureau vessel manned by PCG personnel — to Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea for maritime exercises.

Pagasa Island is in the Kalayaan Island Group of Palawan province.

April 23, 2021 - 10:29am

Two new diplomatic protests have been lodged against China as of April 21, the Department of Foreign Affairs says.

These are in addition to the daily protests over the continuing presence of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef following reports that at least 160 Chinese maritime militia ships are still in Philippine waters.

"The continued swarming and threatening presence of the Chinese vessels creates an atmosphere of instability and is a blatant disregard of the commitments by China to promote peace and stability in the region," the DFA says.

April 18, 2021 - 2:44pm

The Department of National Defense denounces as "irresponsible propaganda" social media posts claiming that retired and active military officers have withdrawn support for President Rodrigo Duterte over the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

"Such disinformation is an act of reckless agitation emanating from detractors, who have a limited and myopic appreciation of issues," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says.

Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, earlier Sunday also disputed the social media rumor, as well as claims of "'warplanes' from various countries taking off and landing in Clark Airbase." 

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