Palace to Chinese vessels near PH-occupied Kota island: Go away
MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese vessels believed to be maritime militia near the Philippine-occupied Kota Island should leave the area, Malacañang said Wednesday, citing that these ships “have no business being there.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government would object the presence of the Chinese vessels in the area.
“We will object to their presence. We already filed a diplomatic protest and that applies to everything, anything that concern Chinese vessels in our territory,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
An INQUIRER.net report on Tuesday said if Chinese vessels were hanging around Kota Island (Loaita) and Panata Island (Lankiam Cay) in the Wset Philippine Sea.
A photo showed a close-up look on some of the Chinese fishing vessels, suspected as maritime militia, near Kota Island on March 28.
Panelo said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. would file a protest “after verifying the report.”
“They cannot be intruding in our territorial property,” he said.
The diplomatic protest, he added, would tell China “that we are against it.”
“That we will not allow it. That we will not tolerate such presence in our territory,” he said.
Asked if the Chinese vessels should leave the area, Locsin said: “They should. They have no business being there.”
The government has been criticized for its soft stance against China in the West Philippine Sea but Duterte has recently warned China not to “touch” Pag-asa Island following a report by the military that at least 275 Chinese vessels believed to be part of China’s maritime militia had been monitored around the Philippine-occupied Island since January.
“While we remain friendly with respect to trade relations, we will always assert sovereignty when it is being impaired or assaulted,” Panelo said.
Asked if Malacañang views the continued presence of Chinese vessels suspected as maritime militia in Philippine waters as an assault, the Palace official said: “If they continue to be present [in] our territory then it is an assault to our sovereignty.” /jpv
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