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 31, 2021 - 11:14am

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 31, 2021 - 11:14am

The government should name and identify rocks and features in the Kalayaan Island Group to assert Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, a senator says Monday.

"The features we occupy in the KIG remain unnamed. Mapapalakas ang paggiit natin ng ating karapatan sa WPS kung malinaw ang pangalan, katangian, at sakop ng mga inaangkin nating teritoryo. Udyukin na ng DENR ang National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) para simulan ang pag-papangalan ng mga ito," Sen. Risa Hontiveros says in a statement. 

May 18, 2021 - 10:04pm

The Philippines protests China’s unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says the Philippines does not recognize China’s fishing moratorium as it covers areas over which the country exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

"China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China’s legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law," the DFA says in a statement.

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.

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