PH has lodged 100 protests vs China
MANILA, Philippines — The country has already filed around 100 diplomatic protests against China’s various incursions in the West Philippine Sea despite the Duterte administration’s vaunted “pivot to China” foreign policy.
“We have filed 99 protest notes, as of 28 May 2021,” Ivy Banzon-Abalos, executive director of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) office for strategic communications, told reporters on Saturday.
The DFA on Friday filed the 100th diplomatic protest against the “incessant deployment, prolonged presence, and illegal activities” of Chinese vessels particularly off Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.
The DFA asserted that the “Pag-asa Islands is an integral part of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
The Philippines has been filing protests almost daily since last month when Chinese vessels started swarming around Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef. At least 220 Chinese vessels moored and lined up in the vicinity of the reef in April.
P5B for naval outposts
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier vowed to “fire off” a diplomatic protest against China every day to clear the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone of any illegal Chinese vessel.
But a lawmaker urged the government to take additional steps to secure the country’s maritime domain and sought the allocation of an initial P5 billion for the installation of 12 naval outposts.
Under House Bill No. 9420, or the proposed Philippine Navy Forward Operating Bases Act, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel wants the bases to be constructed in 12 key areas in the country, including the West Philippine Sea.
Future resupply sites
Pimentel said four of the naval bases would be positioned in Luzon’s western seaboard and three in the eastern coast to guard the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise.
The identified locations were Busuanga, Palawan; Subic Bay, Zambales; Mavulis Island, Batanes; Lubang Island, Mindoro; Surigao, Surigao del Norte; Allen, Northern Samar; Polillo Island, Quezon; Bicobian in Divilacan, Islabela; Casiguran, Aurora; Sarangani, Davao Occidental; Balabac, Palawan; and Mapun, Tawi-Tawi.
“We expect the outposts to serve as the future staging and resupply sites for the Navy’s new generation of warships and battle craft,” said Pimentel, chair of the House strategic intelligence committee. —WITH A REPORT FROM NESTOR CORRALES INQ
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