Keep protesting China intrusion, PH gov’t told | Global News

Keep protesting China intrusion, PH gov’t told

/ 09:23 PM November 03, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines should keep filing diplomatic protests against China’s continuing intrusion in the West Philippine Sea even if these were being met with mockery by the Chinese government and ignored.

Dr. Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said on Wednesday (Nov. 3) that these diplomatic actions are acts of sovereignty.

Chinese militia vessels have recently returned to Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef, where the Philippines has repeatedly protested China’s intrusion early this year.


“Protests are still important because they show that we are acting and exercising our rights, acting in accordance with the law by protesting these Chinese incursions, these illegal activities they have been undertaking such as fishing within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” he said at a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.


“Those are acts of sovereignty which are important to demonstrate that these places are ours,” he added.

Analysts have observed that Chinese vessels lingering in the West Philippine Sea only move from one area to another whenever publicly called out.

China claims to own almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line invention, which The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled as baseless.

Batongbacal said that the Chinese strategy was to intimidate other claimants or simply make them give up.

“On Pag-asa Island, our fishermen are intimidated and unable to go to these places anymore to avoid trouble and out of fear, too, which were precisely what China wants,” said Batongbacal partly in Filipino.

“On a broader scale they want the Philippines to voluntarily withdraw from the West Philippine Sea,” he said.


“If we accept we are powerless and we do nothing in order to avoid trouble, we will just keep quiet, that is exactly what they want us to do,” he added.

A total of 153 out of 211 diplomatic protests filed by the Philippines in the last five years were filed in 2021 alone.

Aside from filing diplomatic protests, the Philippines increased the frequency of air and maritime patrols early this year in response to these Chinese incursions. It exposed challenges to the military and coast guard’s patrolling capabilities, however.

The Duterte administration has imposed a gag order on defense and other officials on movements of China in the West Philippine Sea and in keeping with President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy pivot to China.

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TAGS: Chinese militia, diplomatic protests, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea

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