Philippines files third diplomatic protest vs. China over Julian Felipe Reef

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2021   •   410

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese vessels at Julian Felipe reef seem unfazed by repeated calls to leave the area that is within the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Thus, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. is likewise persistent in filing daily diplomatic protests against China until the latter removes its vessels from the Philippine territory.

On Wednesday (April 7) the Philippines lodged its third diplomatic protest against the communist government in relation to the incident at Julian Felipe Reef.

It was the National Task Force of the West Philippine Sea that revealed the presence of some 200 Chinese vessels in the reef, some 175 nautical miles from Palawan.

Despite days of exchanges on social media between the Department of National Defense and the Chinese Embassy in Manila, some of the vessels still remain in the area.

But according to former police chief now Senator Panfilo Lacson, a diplomatic protest seem futile since China has repeatedly ignored it.

“Diplomatic protests may not be too helpful anymore as China continues to ignore the same. Further, while it is a standard document used to call the attention of the other party, China’s consistent attitude of taking for granted such action taken by the DFA reduces it to a mere point of information,” Lacson said.

“That said, perhaps China would not be so dismissive if we and our allies, both in the Asia-Pacific and the west, show we can band together to maintain a balance of power in the region, including the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Meanwhile, Representative Rufus Rodriguez called on the United States to constantly conduct maritime patrol in the West Philippine Sea to deter Chinese intrusion into Philippine territory.

“Two FON patrols in more than three months. They should criss-cross that area more often to challenge China’s claim over most of the South China Sea, including international waters and a large part of the Philippine EEZ,” Rodriguez said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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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