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Locsin: Now is not the right time to raise sea disputes with China

/ 01:22 PM April 15, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that now is not the “right time” to raise disagreements on disputed territories in the South China Sea, when the Philippines and China are both “hot under the collar.”

“This is actually not the right time to bring up disagreements over the South China Sea / West Philippine Sea with both sides hot under the collar while a pissing contest is in full flower,” he said in a tweet on Monday.

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“But ‘swarming in unison’ is definitely not traditional fishing under any definition,” he added referring to the reported presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island.

Locsin’s tweet came days after Philippine and Chinese officials asserted their stand on the maritime dispute that has long involved the two countries.

Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang maintained China’s claims over the Spratly Islands, citing legal and historical basis and accounts.

READ: Spratlys ‘historically, legally’ ours – China spokesman 

China insists ‘Spratlys ours,’ asserts Sino fishers’ ‘rights’ 

Malacanang, however, rebuked China’s claims.

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READ: Palace rebukes China: Spratlys is ours 

Lu made the assertion in response to recent statements by Philippine officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier said that he would send soldiers to a suicide mission if Chinese forces “touched” Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.

READ: Duterte to send soldiers on suicide mission vs. China if… 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Command earlier reported that at least 275 Chinese vessels, believed to be part of China’s maritime militia, were monitored from January to March close to Pag-asa, the biggest of nine Philippine-occupied islands and shoals in the West Philippine Sea.

READ: Chinese sea militia swarms around Pag-asa Island – military 

Earlier, Locsin stressed  that the West Philippine Sea is “ours” and China “took it.”

READ: West PH Sea: China took what is ours – Locsin 

“The stand is that it is ours. And they took it. World’s highest court ruled that. Period,” he tweeted referring to the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which favored the Philippines after it filed a case challenging China’s sweeping claims of nearly the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

The ruling recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in areas within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, which includes the Spratlys. /gsg

READ: PH wins arbitration case over South China Sea 

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TAGS: Beijing, China, DFA, dispute, Duterte, Locsin, Pag-asa Island, Philippines, Spratlys, Teodoro Locsin Jr., Territories
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