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Philippines reiterates sovereignty over Panatag as China claims it as 'inherent territory'

Philstar.com
Philippines reiterates sovereignty over Panatag as China claims it as 'inherent territory'
This handout photo taken on March 2, 2022 and released by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on March 27, shows a Philippine coast guard personnel (R) monitoring a Chinese coast guard ship shadowing their vessel while conducting a maritime patrol in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Handout / Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government on Tuesday reiterated that it has sovereignty over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc after China insisted it is part of its inherent territory.

"The Philippine position is we continue to exercise full sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc and its territorial sea, as well as sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the surrounding EEZ and continental shelf," acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said in a statement.

Andanar's remarks came after Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed that Beijing has sovereignty over Panatag Shoal, which the Chinese call Huangyan Dao.

Rejecting an UNCLOS-backed court's arbitral ruling that Panatag Shoal is a traditional fishing ground open to all, Wang further insisted that Beijing also has sovereignty over its adjacent waters. The tribunal also concluded that China failed to respect the traditional fishing rights of Filipino fishermen by blocking access to the shoal off the coast of Zambales.

"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.

This was in response to the Philippine Coast Guard's (PCG) report that there have been four incidences of China Coast Guard vessels conducting close distance maneuvering while Philippine patrol boats were on maritime patrol in the shoal.

The four incidences were:

  • PCG patrol ship BRP Malabrigo reported close distance maneuvering of CCG 3305 on March 2, 2022.
     
  • PCG-manned BFAR ship MCS-3005 reported close distance maneuvering of CCG 3301 on May 19, 2021.
     
  • CCG 3301 and 3302 conducted close distance maneuvering with PCG's BRP Capones and BRP Sindangan during the coast guard's exercises in Panatag Shoal from June 1 to 2, 2021.

PCG Commandant Adm. Artemio Abu said the behavior of the Chinese ships increased the risk of collision with Philippine vessels.

“We are fully aware of dangerous situations at sea, but these will not stop our deployment of assets and personnel in Bajo de Masinloc, Philippine Rise, and other parts of the country’s exclusive economic zones," Abu earlier said. — Patricia Lourdes Viray with report from Alexis Romero

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