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China berated for claiming jurisdiction over West Philippine Sea

Philstar.com
China berated for claiming jurisdiction over West Philippine Sea
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) conduct comprehensive maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea on April 24, 2021.
Philipppine Coast Guard Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has every right to conduct maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea, two senators said Wednesday in response to Beijing's call on Manila to stop doing so. 

They said this in response to China's claim of jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea after the Philippine Coast Guard conducted maritime exercises in the area. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a press briefing held Monday also called on the Philippines to "respect China's sovereignty and rights and interests, and stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes." 

But Sen. Risa Hontiveros said China is again "contorting facts to suit her baseless claims."

"Let us make it clear: Beijing has been the one disrespecting the Philippines’ sovereignty; not the other way around," she said. "In truth, it is China that has been harassing our fisherfolk, reclaiming land in territories she does not own, and even using war vessels to chase off Filipino civilians." 

"If China truly wants respect, she should stop twisting and contesting the basic principles of international law. Just accept the hard truth: the West Philippine Sea belongs to us, not you."  

Meanwhile, Sen. Joel Villanueva disputed claims that the PCG's drills escalated tensions. 

"The intention is to patrol our seas, which involves a few civilian ships, less than 10, and not an armed floating militia numbering hundreds of vessels," he said, referencing the outsized presence of Chinese ships in Philippine waters in recent weeks. 

READ: Over 200 Chinese militia ships spotted in West Philippine SeaChinese missile boats drive away Filipino TV crew in West Philippine Sea

"It is a peaceful exercise of our rights. It is to check on our fishing grounds. It is not an advance party of a reclamation expedition. Our ships are going there in peace." 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest over China's remarks. 

A government task force also reported the continued illegal presence of three Chinese Coast Guard ships in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, one in the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan and another one in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

"If China sincerely wants to avoid escalation, it should pull back her navy and maritime militia. China can’t even respect freedom of navigation on the high seas, and now she wants respect for her unfounded nine-dash line?" Hontiveros said. 

"It seems that China is the one hallucinating. She must be the one living in an alternate reality."

— Bella Perez-Rubio with reports from Patricia Lourdes Viray 

CHINA

JOEL VILLANUEVA

RISA HONTIVEROS

SENATE

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

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