MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed two protests against China for the continuous presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, and its “belligerent actions against the Philippine Coast Guard.”
In a statement, the DFA said it has protested the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) on the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.
The department also mentioned in its protest “the incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”
“From January 1 to March 18, 2021, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies monitored the continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the areas around the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll, and Bajo de Masinloc,” the statement said.
The department also rejects the statement of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 26 April 2021 that China enjoys sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc, reiterating that such statement has no “basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is not recognized by the international community.”
The DFA further emphasized that “the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
It also reiterated that China has no law enforcement rights in these areas.
The DFA also called on China “to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty.” AAC