Duterte slams Ayungin water cannon incident: This doesn’t speak well of PH-China relations
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday slammed the incident wherein Chinese Coast Guard ships “blocked and water cannoned” Philippine supply boats on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, saying it does not speak well of the relations between the Philippines and China.
“We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments. This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership,” Duterte said during the ASEAN-China special summit.
“This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership,” he added.
Duterte cited the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 Arbitral Award, which he said, “provide legal clarity… pointing us to a just and fair solution to our disputes.”
“We must fully utilize these legal tools to ensure that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability and prosperity,” he added.
‘No other way but rule of law’
Duterte also told China to remain committed to the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
“There is simply no other way out of this colossal problem but the rule of law,” the President said.
He called the South China Sea issue a “strategic challenge” that cannot be solved by force, urging stakeholders to exercise self-restraint, avoid the escalation of tensions and work towards the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.
The Philippines last week protested the blocking and water cannon attack by China coast guard on two Philippine civilian supply vessels ferrying supplies to Filipino troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal last Nov. 16.
No one was hurt during the incident but the Philippine boats had to retreat after one of them suffered outrigger damage as a result of the water cannon attack.
Beijing issued no apology for the hostile act, insisting that the Philippine boats “trespassed” Chinese waters, which are within the Philippines’ EEZ.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said last week that the China Coast Guard only “performed official duties in accordance with law” and upheld “China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime order.”
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, in July 2016, junked China’s nine-dash claim in the South China Sea.
The Philippine supply boats harassed last week will continue their mission on Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
He said Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian gave him assurance that the resupply mission will not be impeded.
The Chinese ambassador, however, gave a condition for allowing the Philippine mission to go unimpeded.
“But they requested no escort,” Lorenzana said.
A Philippine Navy plane will monitor the boats once they reach the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal, he further said.
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