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Chinese coast guard broke maritime laws – Del Rosario

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Chinese coast guard broke maritime laws â Del Rosario
Albert del Rosario, a former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary, slammed the CCG ship’s close distance manuevering which he said endangered the lives of Filipinos on the PCG ship conducting maritime patrol operations in the area, also known as Scarborough Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The dangerous maneuver of a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel that risked collision with a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship in Panatag Shoal last March 2 was “deliberate” and violated international maritime law and agreements, a former top diplomat of the Philippines said yesterday.

Albert del Rosario, a former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary, slammed the CCG ship’s close distance manuevering which he said endangered the lives of Filipinos on the PCG ship conducting maritime patrol operations in the area, also known as Scarborough Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc.

On Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned the Philippines not to interfere with its patrol at the shoal, stating that it allegedly “has sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc and its adjacent waters as well as sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters.”

But Del Rosario said the Chinese vessel’s action was in violation of existing international law and agreements concluded within the International Maritime Organization framework such as COLREG (Collision Regulations).

“Based on the statement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, it is clear that the dangerous maneuver by the Chinese Coast Guard was not merely incidental, accidental or by chance. It was deliberate. It was malicious. It is in violation of existing international law and agreements,” he said.

Del Rosario, who led the Philippines’ winning the arbitration case against China, explained that similar actions of the CCG in the past had been the subject of the Philippine arbitration against China adjudged in 2016 as “violative of international law.”

“We condemn the malicious and reckless action of the Chinese Coast Guard in endangering the lives of the Filipinos aboard BRP Malabrigo. At the same time, we wish to commend the officers and crew of the Filipino vessel for their courage in conducting patrols around Bajo de Masinloc,” he added.

He disputed China’s claim of sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc, noting that it is a territory of the Philippines and it is “under the sovereignty of the Philippines, not China.”

“Therefore, the presence and conduct of patrol by the Chinese Coast Guard in Bajo de Masinloc is illegal and affects the peace in the West Philippines Sea and the South China Sea,” Del Rosario stressed.

Bajo de Masinloc is a rock situated about 124 to 126 nautical miles from the nearest coast of the municipality of Zambales in the Philippine island of Luzon. In contrast, it is more than 400 nautical miles from China’s island of Hainan.

Philippine sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf had been affirmed by the 2016 arbitral tribunal.

Meanwhile, vice presidential candidate Sen. Francis Pangilinan vowed that he and his running mate for president, Vice President Leni Robredo, will fight squarely for Philippine territory and sovereignty as China continues to claim Panatag Shoal.

“The Leni-Kiko tandem will defend our rights, those of the fishermen and the entire Philippines against any occupier,” Pangilinan said in Filipino.

Pangilinan said China’s confidence in claiming Panatag is a result of the Duterte administration’s kowtowing to China despite the Philippines’ victory in the international court.

Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) has also blamed President Duterte and his “subservient foreign policies” for China’s display of aggression over the Philippine maritime territories. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Elizabeth Marcelo

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