Palace: Fresh PH protest vs China won’t affect COVID-19 vaccine talks
MANILA, Philippines — The recently-filed diplomatic protest by the Philippines against the Chinese Coast Guard’s “illegal confiscation” of fish aggregating devices installed by Filipino fishermen in the Panatag (Scarborough) shoal will not affect negotiations between the two countries on the possible purchase of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, Malacañang said Friday.
According to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the filing of protests over acts deemed violative of the country’s sovereign rights is part of Philippine diplomats’ job.
But he noted that protesting such acts will not affect the friendship of the Philippines and China which have been locked in a maritime dispute over parts of the South China Sea.
“’Yang mga protests naman ginagawa talaga ‘yan ng ating mga diplomats kung meron sa tingin natin na nalalabag sa ating soberenya o doon sa ating tinatawag natin sovereign rights,” Roque said in an interview over state-run PTV.
[Filing of diplomatic protests is what our diplomats would do when they think that something violates our sovereignty or what we call sovereign rights.]
“Pero hindi naman po makakaapekto doon sa kabuuan ng ating matalik na pagsasamahan sa panig ng bansa natin at ng bansang Tsina,” he added.
[But that will not affect the close relationship of our country and China.]
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed a diplomatic protest against China over the incident which took place some three months ago in May.
“The [DFA] lodged today a diplomatic protest to China over the illegal confiscation by the Chinese Coast Guard of fish aggregating devices (payaos) of Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc,” the DFA said.
Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) or Bajo de Masinloc is a vital spawning ground for fish that lies approximately 120 nautical miles from the coast of Masinloc, Zambales.
The Philippines, DFA noted, “resolutely objected to China’s continuing illicit issuances of radio challenges to Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea.”
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including waters within the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines (the West Philippine Sea), Vietnam, and Taiwan.
In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated Beijing’s ambitious claim in the strategic body of water.
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