Lorenzana hits back at 'trespassing' China: We can do whatever we want in Ayungin

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Lorenzana hits back at 'trespassing' China: We can do whatever we want in Ayungin
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana gives an update to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on August 24, 2021
Preisdential Photo / Karl Alonzo

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday reminded China that the Philippines has sovereign rights over Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Citing the July 2016 arbitral ruling, Lorenzana stressed that Beijing's territorial claim over the West Philippine Sea "has no historic nor legal basis."

"Ergo, we can do whatever we want there and it is they who are actually trespassing," Lorenzana said in a statement.

The defense chief added that China should abide by its international obligations, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which it ratified.

Lorenzana further noted that the UNCLOS awarded the Philippines its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

"We have two documents proving that we have sovereign rights in our EEZ while they have none and their claim is baseless," Lorenzana said in Filipino.

This statement came in response to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which pointed out that Ayungin Shoal, which they call Ren'ai Jiao, is part of its territory.

Beijing earlier accused Filipino boats conducting resupply mission to military personnel stationed on Ayungin Shoal of trespassing.

"China demands that the Philippine side honor its commitment and remove its grounded vessel on Ren'ai Jiao. This position remains unchanged," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a press briefing Wednesday.

Zhao added that the delivery of food and supplies to Ayungin Shoal is a "provisional, special arrangement out of humanitarian considerations."

On Wednesday, Lorenzana said there was a Chinese coast guard ship in the vicinity while two Filipino civilian boats manned by the Philippine Navy arrived at Ayungin Shoal.

While there was no untoward incident, the Chinese coast guard ship deployed a rubber boat near the navy's BRP Sierra Madre while the supply boats were unloading.

"I have communicated to the Chinese ambassador that we consider these acts as a form of intimidation and harassment," Lorenzana said.

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