DFA told: Summon China’s envoy anew over reported new ships at West Philippine Sea

DFA told: Summon China�s envoy anew over reported new ships at West Philippine Sea
This March 20, 2021 photo shows Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian
Facebook / Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to summon China's envoy to the Philippines anew over the reported presence of its 100 additional ships in the West Philippine Sea. 

A little over two months ago, the DFA summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian for the first time over Beijing's continued swarming of Julian Felipe Reef with over 200 of its vessels. 

While the ships have since dispersed from the reef, reports from the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said they only moved to other parts of the Philippine exclusive economic zone. 

Between mid-May and mid-June this year, an additional 100 ships, likely Chinese, have been spotted within the country's EEZ, per a report from US-based geospatial imagery and data analysis company Simularity. 

“Instead of de-escalating the tensions in the disputed waters, they doubled down. This clearly shows that China is shamelessly hellbent on aggravating the situation," Hontiveros said. 

"We had protested, pleaded and stood up for months, but [China] just ignored it all. Instead of leaving our territories and obeying the law, they seem to have added a huge [number of ships]," she added in Filipino. 

Hontiveros added that she trusts the DFA will lodge another diplomatic protest on the matter. The department's latest publicized protest was over China's "incessant deployment" of ships to Pag-Asa Island. 

"The DFA needs to summon the Chinese Ambassador again for intensive talks," she said in Filipino. "China's relentless aggression against our country cannot continue."

"We, as a nation, are owed dignity and respect." 

She also renewed her call on Malacañang to condemn China's presence in the West Philippine Sea and to refrain from releasing statements that she said only serve weaken the country's claim over its own waters. 

READ: 'China has the arms. We do not have it,' Duterte says on West Philippine SeaContradicting gov’t agencies, Palace says Julian Felipe Reef not within Philippines' EEZ

"Now that China has added more ships, maybe the Palace will rise up. If not, we Filipinos must learn not to choose a leader that will not stand up for us," Hontiveros said in Filipino. 

Beijing does not recognize the arbitral ruling that invalidated its nine-dash claim over the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea. 

President Rodrigo Duterte at the beginning of his term said he would "set aside" the ruling to pursue closer ties with China.

Amid the regional power's repeated incursions into the West Philippine Sea, he has derided the ruling as "just a piece of paper" that he will "throw away."

— Bella Perez-Rubio 

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