PH vows to ‘fully exercise’ sovereign rights over its territory
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will “fully exercise” its sovereign rights over its territory, Malacañang vowed on Friday, after China demanded that the Philippines remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal where it serves as a military outpost.
In a Palace briefing, Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said it is clear that the Ayungin Shoal is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“Paulit-ulit namang binabalikan lagi ni Pangulong Duterte sa mga summits, pati sa pagsasalita niya sa United Nations. Binabalikan natin lagi ‘yung Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) at arbitral award. Doon po, napakaliwanag na kabilang po ‘yan sa ating EEZ, kabilang po ‘yan sa ating teritoryo, and we will fully exercise our sovereign rights over our territory,” Nograles said.
(President Rodrigo Duterte has been reiterating it in international summits and his speech at the United Nations. We always refer to the Unclos and the arbitral award where it is clear that the Ayungin Shoal is within our country’s EEZ. We will fully exercise our sovereign rights over our territory.)
China, through Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, earlier demanded that the Philippines “honor its commitment” and remove the grounded ship from Ayungin Shoal.
“Ren’ai Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao,” said Zhao. China calls Ayungin Shoal as Ren’ai Jiao and the Spratly islands as Nansha Qundao.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has denied that the Philippines made a commitment to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin. He stressed that the shoal lies within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer EEZ over which the country has sovereign rights.
The demand from China comes after its coast guard vessels blocked and blasted with a water cannon two Filipino supply boats on a resupply mission to the Marine detachment at the outpost.
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