PH files new protest vs China incursions
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Monday said he had directed department officials to drop the diplomatic language and be explicit in the protests they would file against China’s latest intrusion into Philippine waters.
Speaking at the organizational meeting of the Senate’s foreign affairs committee, Locsin said he had ordered the filing of another protest against Beijing after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana spoke up against it.
Lorenzana had said he was irked by the repeated passage of Chinese warships through Philippine waters without informing the country’s authorities.
The military earlier reported that Chinese vessels sailed through the Sibutu Strait several times in August and twice in July.
Defense chief has spoken
Locsin said he did not usually listen to civilian sources but only to the military.
“However, I said since it is the Secretary of National Defense who has spoken, fire off a diplomatic protest to China, and if we have already fired one off on the Chinese warships, fire off another. We will never run out of those,” he said.
Locsin also answered in the affirmative when Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked him if the filing of the protest was to continue asserting the Philippines’ authority over the seas within its area so that it would not be deemed to be consenting to what China is doing.
President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit China this month to discuss the Philippine victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which had invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claim over the South China Sea.
Palace backs Locsin’s move
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, for his part, said the Philippines should not tire of filing diplomatic protests and should pressure China to respond.
Malacañang on Monday backed the move of Locsin to file a diplomatic protest over the repeated passage of Chinese warships in the Sibutu Strait.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace was leaving it to the Department of Foreign Affairs to handle the protest.
He added that the Philippines will wait for the response or explanation of China on the latest diplomatic protest of Manila to Beijing.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Monday ridiculed the statement of Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua’s raising the prospect of overseas Filipino workers acting as spies in China in response to defense officials’ concerns of Chinese espionage in Philippine offshore gaming operations (Pogos).
“Fact is, the security concerns raised are very valid because China has the means, capacity and motive to use these hubs for its own military and political purposes,” said the opposition lawmaker, a deputy minority leader at the House, in a statement.
Zarate said Zhao’s statement was “just a way of turning the tables” on Filipino officials who had raised a valid point concerning the location of Pogos being so close to sensitive military installations.
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