DFA slams statement of Chinese Embassy in Manila vs Lorenzana, Julian Felipe Reef

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2021   •   452

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday blasted the statement of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the presence of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

In a statement, the DFA said it “strongly deplores” the remarks of the Chinese Embassy spokesperson reacting to Lorenzana’s statement issued on April 3 calling on Chinese vessels to leave the waters in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef.

“[T]he Department of Foreign Affairs denounces the Embassy’s attempt to impugn the Secretary of National Defense – a Cabinet Official of the Republic of the Philippines – by calling his statement ‘unprofessional,’” the department said.

“Chinese Embassy officials are reminded that they are guests of the Philippine government, and as guests must at all times observe protocol and accord respect to Philippine government officials,” it added.

Lorenzana earlier demanded the immediate withdrawal of the remaining Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, telling the ships to sail away and for the Chinese to “leave our sovereign territories and abide by the international law.”

“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. The vessels should be on their way out,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Embassy last Saturday said that China hopes authorities “avoid any unprofessional remarks” over the presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippine Sea.

Chinese officials earlier denied that the vessels were maritime militia and that these are only seeking temporary shelter due to rough sea conditions. They also said that the vessels are in Chinese territory, calling the reef as Niu’e Jiao.

The DFA said the Chinese Embassy’s statement “contained blatant falsehoods such as claims of adverse weather conditions when there were none and the supposed non-existence of maritime militia vessels in the area. “

“The statement also attempted to promote the clearly false narrative of China’s expansive and illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea,” the DFA said.

Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and lies in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of the Philippines. It is located 175 nautical miles west of Batarza town in Palawan and 638,229 nautical miles from Hainan Island, it added.

The DFA also rejected China’s assertion that Julian Felipe Reef and its waters are their traditional fishing grounds.

“Tradition yields to the law whether or not it is regarded as traditional fishing,” the department said.

“The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) – to which both the Republic of the Philippines and China are parties – and the final and binding July 12, 2016 award in the South China Sea Arbitration are clearly the only norm applicable to this situation,” it added.

The foreign affairs department emphasized that the July 12, 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.”

“The Tribunal ruled that claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are without lawful effect,” it said.

“It further ruled that UNCLOS ‘superseded any historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, in excess of the limits imposed therein,’” it added.

The DFA reiterated Lorenzana’s call for China to immediately withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef and in the Philippines’ maritime zones.

“For every day of delay, the Republic of the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest,” it warned.

The lingering presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the DFA said, blatantly infringed upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdictions.

“These are contrary to China’s commitments under international law and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and demonstrate lack of good faith in the ongoing negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China,” it added.

No PH-China ‘verbal fishing deal’ in West Philippine Sea — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday denied allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte made a “verbal fishing agreement” with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed the claims as “conjecture” and “without basis.”

“There is no truth to the speculation of a purported “verbal fishing agreement” between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping, nor Chinese vessels were encouraged to stay in the West Philippine Sea despite the diplomatic protests and strongly-worded statements of Philippine government officials,” he said.

Roque said that a fishing agreement under the Philippine domestic laws can only be done through a treaty.

“Per Article 2 (1) (a) of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties, a treaty is an international agreement concluded between States in written form,” he said.

“Clearly, a treaty must be in writing. No such treaty or agreement exists between the Philippines and China,” he added.

The Palace official, however, clarified that non-commercial fishing activities may be allowed in local waters as part of traditional fishing rights.

“The President does not condone unlawful commercial fishing by any state on Philippine waters,” Roque said.

“However, the President also recognizes that subsistence (non-commercial) fishing may be allowed as a recognition of the traditional fishing rights pointed out by the Arbitral Tribunal itself in its Award on Jurisdiction (para. 407) in the case between the Philippines and China,” he added.

Roque called on critics to “stop making malicious speculations and false claims made to pointlessly inflame the situation.”

“We ask everyone to just focus our time and effort on productive activities that will enable us to help one another at this time of the pandemic,” he said.

DFA files new diplomatic protest over continued presence of Chinese vessels in PH waters

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has filed two new diplomatic protests against China over the “illegal presence” of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced in a statement on Friday (April 23).

The DFA said it lodged two new diplomatic notes on April 21 in protest of the continued deployment, presence and activities  of Chinese vessels in Philippine maritime zones. The new diplomatic protest is in addition to the daily protest filed by the DFA over the presence of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

Based on reports received by the Foreign Affairs Department, as of April 20, around 160 Chinese fishing vessels and Chinese maritime militia vessels were sighted in Philippine waters. Several of them were seen in the Kalayaan Island Group, in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and the territorial waters of Bajo de Masinloc.

The DFA also said the continued threatening presence of Chinese vessels creates an atmosphere of instability and is a blatant disregard of the commitments made by China to promote peace and stability in the region.

“Through these protest, the DFA reminded China that Bajo de Masinloc, Pag-asa Islands, Panata, Parola, Kota Islands, Chigua and Burgos Reefs are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction,” the DFA said. AAC

 

500K more Sinovac doses to arrive in PH April 22

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to receive Thursday 500,000 more doses of CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

The plane carrying the shipment is expected to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 5 p.m.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials will welcome the arrival of the vaccines procured by the government.

The arrival of the additional doses on Thursday would bring to 3,525,600 the number of COVID-19 vaccines, comprised of CoronaVac and AstraZeneca, that the Philippines has so far received.

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana on Wednesday announced that another 500,000 vials of Sinovac vaccines are expected to arrive in Manila next week.

This is part of the commitment of Sinovac Biotech to deliver 1.5 million vaccine doses this month. The other 500,000 doses were shipped last April 11.

The Philippines is also expecting to receive this month at least 20,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines made by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute while additional AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility may be delivered in May.

The WHO previously said that the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses for the Philippines has been delayed, and that it will be lesser in number than expected, due to a global supply shortage.

Once additional vaccine doses arrive in the country, the national government is eyeing to begin the inoculation of economic frontliners by May and to intensify the vaccination drive in other COVID-19 hotspots in the Philippines.

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