Locsin says PH will continue its patrol near Spratlys
MANILA, Philippines — While China can “say what they want,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stood firm in saying that the Philippines will continue patrolling near the Spratly Islands.
China earlier urged the Philippines to stop “illegal provocations” as it accused Manila of supposedly violating Beijing’s security and sovereignty for dispatching military aircraft close to the area.
“We’re gonna continue our patrol because it’s ours. That’s all there is to it and then they (China) will continue to call it an illegal provocation… but that’s their right. It’s a free world. We can’t stop another country from talking,” Locsin said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday.
China’s strong reaction came after Manila lodged a diplomatic protest against Beijing over its Coast Guard’s “illegal confiscation” of fish aggregating devices installed by Filipino fishermen in a Philippine-claimed shoal off Zambales.
“Our statement itself was a reaction to what China was doing. That was our reaction and that is their reaction. Let me please emphasize this, it’s a free world. Everyone is free to say what they want,” the foreign affairs chief said.
“I have formally protested certain actions from China in what is indisputably our territorial waters. So fine, let them say that. They can call it illegal provocations, you can’t change their mind. They already lost the arbitral award, they wouldn’t accept it,” he added.
Manila and Beijing have long been locked in a maritime dispute.
In 2013, the Philippines filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
The Hague-based court, however, ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim.
China refused to recognize the ruling, continuing its aggression in the disputed waters and building artificial islands to house military facilities.
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