MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday stressed that China has no legal basis to stop Philippine authorities from conducting maritime patrols and other activities in the West Philippine Sea.
DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong issued the remark in response to the Chinese government’s statement that the Philippines should stop taking actions that would complicate the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
“China has no business telling the Philippines what we can and cannot do within our own waters,” Andolong said in a statement.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday urged the Philippines to “respect” their supposed sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and to stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes
“China enjoys sovereignty over Nansha Islands including Zhongye Island and Zhongsha Islands including Huangyan Island and their adjacent waters, and exercises jurisdiction in relevant waters,” Wang said.
He was referring to Panatag Shoal, which China calls Huangtyan Island, and Pag-asa Island, which they call Zhongye Island.
But Andolong noted that China’s so-called nine-dash line demarcating its massive claims has no legal basis in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and has been nullified by the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines’ claims over the resource-rich waters.
“The arbitral award has categorically stated that the Chinese claim bounded by their so-called nine-dash line according to their “historical right” has no basis in fact,” he said.
“Therefore, it is they who are encroaching and should desist and leave,” he added.
Andolong also said that the Philippine forces will continue to “do what is necessary to protect our sovereign rights.”
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) last Saturday held maritime drills near the Bajo de Masinloc and Pag-asa Islands.
The PCG said the training was intended to intensify its personnel training on navigation, small boat operations, maintenance, and logistical operations.
Aside from the West Philippine Sea, the said capital ships will also be deployed to perform maritime exercises in the Batanes Group of Islands, Benham Rise, as well as in the southern and eastern portions of the Philippines, the PCG said.
The maritime drills were conducted by the PCG and BFAR following reports on Chinese vessels lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.