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Beijing insists sovereignty over Panatag after near collision of Filipino, Chinese ships

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Beijing insists sovereignty over Panatag after near collision of Filipino, Chinese ships
This March 2, 2022 photo shows a China Choas Guard ship with bow number 3305 conducting a close distance maneuvering while the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Malabrigo is conducting maritime patrol operations in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, a traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.
Philippine Coast Guard / Released

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:53 p.m.) — Once again ignoring the 2016 arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea, Beijing insisted that Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc is part of its "inherent territory."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed that Beijing has sovereignty over Panatag Shoal and its adjacent waters "as well as sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters."

"We hope that the Philippine ships will earnestly respect China’s sovereignty and rights and interests, abide by China’s domestic law and international law, and avoid interfering with the patrol and law enforcement of the China Coast Guard in the above-mentioned waters," Wang said in a press briefing Monday.

Wang's remarks came after a report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that a China Coast Guard ship conducted a close maneuver in the vicinity of the traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.

The PCG had reported four incidences of close distance maneuvering of China Coast Guard ship in Panatag Shoal, the latest of which was on March 2.

The Chinese ship constrained the maneuvering space of PCG patrol vessel BRP Malabrigo, a violation of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

"The behavior of the involved CCG vessels increased the risk of collision with four of our capital ships," PCG PCG Commandant Adm. Artemio Abu earlier said.

Abu added that the coast guard immediately coordinated with the National task Force for the West Philippine Sea and the Department of Foreign Affairs to address the issue through a rules-based approach.

The DFA has yet to confirm whether they have filed a diplomatic protest over the incident.

Fishers' group Pamalakaya called out Beijing, stressing that it should be compelled to honor the arbitral ruling, which they "never respect."

"Beijing has no right to dictate who can stay and who will be ejected from the seas that they have no legal and political claim. We warn that any untoward action from Chinese forces would be met with a strong, collective, and diplomatic actions from our fisherfolks who stand side by side with patriotic Filipinos," Pamalakaya said in a statement released Tuesday.

Panatag Shoal is well within the 200-nautical mile Philippine exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

The UNCLOS-backed tribunal, however, ruled that the shoal is a traditional fishing ground open to all fishermen from the Philippines, China and other countries.

The tribunal also ruled that China failed to respect the traditional fishing rights of Filipino fishermen by blocking access to the shoal after May 2012.

RELATED VIDEO:

BAJO DE MASINLOC

CHINA COAST GUARD

PANATAG SHOAL

PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

SCARBOROUGH SHOAL

SOUTH CHINA SEA

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

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