Gordon lauds Locsin for filing diplomatic protest vs China’s new law

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2021   •   487

MANILA, Philippines – A senator on Thursday commended Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for filing a diplomatic protest against a new law passed by China that allows its coast guard to shoot foreign vessels in the contested areas in South China Sea.

“I commend Secretary Locsin for taking a very important and valiant action by standing up for our rights. He did right by our country, and we support him wholeheartedly,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Senate Committee on justice and human rights, said in a statement.

Locsin on Wednesday said he has filed a diplomatic protest against China for its new law, which he called a “verbal threat of war” to any country that defies it.

China’s legislative body last week passed the law that allows its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

“When another country claims the oceans surrounding us, which we claim, even threatens to demolish our fishing boats or fishing boats of any country that get to that ocean or that sea, this is a serious cause for concern. This is a shot in the bow of all the claimants in the territories,” Gordon said.

Other senators have also expressed concern over the measure that could endanger the lives of Filipino fishermen who venture in the disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and 3 other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. 

Esperon assures following Duterte’s orders in defending West PH Sea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser and Chairman of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea Sec. Hermogenes Esperon said they will follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders in defending the West Philippine Sea.

The President previously said that he will not back down and will not order the retreat of the two vessels that the country deployed in patrolling the Kalayaan Islands and the Mischief Reef.

“Hindi talaga ako aatras. Patayin mo man ako kung patayin mo ako, dito ako. Dito magtatapos ang ating pagkakaibigan,” he said during a public address.

(I will not back down. Kill me, I will be here. This is where our friendship ends.)

In a separate interview in Politiscoop, Esperon said they are prepared to follow the President’s orders which includes deploying military ships in case there is an excavation of natural gas in the disputed islands.

“May utos na po ang pangulo natin diyan. Alam na natin gagawin diyan,” he said.

(The President has a directive. We already know what to do.)

Esperon also noted that the country is using satellite technology to monitor unauthorized sea vessels entering the country’s territory.

He added that the task force, in coordination with the Philippine Space Agency, aims to boost the country’s satellite technology.

“Actually mayroon tayong nova satellite diyan run by the Philippine Space Agency at pinapalawig pa natin ang ating kakayahan tungkol sa satellite. For now ang ginagamit na ay ang flight maritime patrols, sovereign patrols ng Air Force ng navy,” he said.

(Actually, we have a nova satellite run by the Philippine Space Agency and we are still expanding our capability with regards to the satellite. For now, we are using flight maritime patrols, the sovereign patrols of the Air Force.)

Amid the tension between the disputed islands, the President reiterated that the country is avoiding any conflict in the region. But he said that China should still respect the country’s position on the issue. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte invites Juan Ponce Enrile to discuss West Philippine Sea issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will seek the counsel of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea dispute.

In a taped speech aired on Friday, Duterte said he has invited Enrile to join his meeting with Cabinet officials on Monday, May 17, to discuss the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China.

“We have respectfully invited Senator Enrile to come here kasi hindi man ako puwedeng makalabas na mag-usap,” he said.

“Pakinggan natin siya. Huwag na tayong — hindi na ako magsalita. Makikinig lang ako sa kanya kasi siya ‘yong — he was there right at the beginning,” he added.

Duterte said he would be all ears if the former lawmaker and a shrewd lawyer were to discuss the West Philippine issue with him.

“Sa kanya ako makinig kasi sa kanya ako bilib sa utak at pag-intindi nitong problema itong ating West Philippine Sea,” he said.

The president expressed hope that the 97-year old Enrile would accept his invitation.

Duterte did not say his reasons for consulting Enrile on the matter, but the former senator had previously expressed support for the Duterte administration’s diplomatic way of dealing with the maritime dispute. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Sea dispute only 1% of ties; close communication with PH remains — China

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese government said that its “smooth channel” with the Philippines remains amid tensions over reports of the continuing presence of Chinese ships in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea.

In a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the Philippines and China have maintained “close communication” and that both parties are “committed to properly handling the relevant issue through dialogue and consultation.”

Hua issued the statement when asked for a response to a Philippine top diplomat’s comments that China has deployed more vessels in the disputed waters.

“I haven’t read relevant reports. But China’s position on the South China Sea is very clear, consistent, and firm,” Hua said.

“China and the Philippines have a smooth channel and maintain close communication on the relevant issue,” she added.

The Chinese official also said that the maritime dispute is “only one percent” of the Philippine-China relations.

“Our full consensus is that the South China Sea issue accounts for only 1% of the overall bilateral relations,” she said.

“The two sides are committed to properly handling the relevant issue through dialogue and consultation, so as to continue to safeguard and promote the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations,” she added.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) on Wednesday reported that a total of 287 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels were sighted in Kalayaan waters, both within and outside the Philippines’ EEZ, based on the results of its maritime patrol on May 9.

“Bigger groupings of CMMs were sighted at the artificial islands of China while some were observed near islands occupied by the Philippines,” the task force said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it has fired off another diplomatic protest as it continues to demand that China withdraw its ships in the country’s territorial waters.

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