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DFA summons China embassy official over WPS ‘harassment’

/ 12:33 AM May 31, 2022
Department of Foreign Affairs building. STORY: DFA summons China embassy exec over WPS ‘harassment’

Department of Foreign Affairs building. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has summoned a senior Chinese Embassy official to protest the alleged “harassment” by the Chinese coast guard of the RV Legend, a vessel carrying Filipino scientists authorized to conduct marine research in the West Philippine Sea.

It’s also reviewing other reported incidents for appropriate diplomatic action.

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In a statement issued late Monday, the DFA said it “takes appropriate diplomatic action for violations of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights within our maritime jurisdiction.”

The DFA issued the statement after it was asked for comment on a report by a Washington-based think tank, which tracked several incidents of alleged harassment by the Chinese coast guard and vessels against Philippine ships in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea last month.

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“Illegal activities around Ayungin Shoal are subject of diplomatic protests, in the exercise of the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Ayungin Shoal, which forms part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines as affirmed by the 2016 Award on the SCS (South China Sea) arbitration,” the DFA said.

Not ‘innocent passage’

“On the presence of foreign coast guard vessels around Reed Bank, in the vicinity of the Philippine approved activities around SC 75 and SC 72, as well in the vicinity of the approved joint Marine Scientific Research led by the UP NIGS (National Institute of Geological Sciences), are not consistent with innocent passage and are clear violations of Philippine maritime jurisdiction where only the Philippine government has the mandate of enforcement,” it added.

“The detailed reports of these activities are being reviewed for the filing of appropriate diplomatic action,” the DFA further said.

The DFA stressed that only the Philippine Coast Guard “has enforcement jurisdiction over these waters. “

“The presence of foreign vessels following tracks that are neither continuous nor expeditious, that are not consistent with Article 19 of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) on innocent passage, are against the interests of the Philippines,” it added.

“We assure the Filipino people that the role of the DFA on upholding Philippine interests and protecting and preserving national security and territorial integrity will remain firm,” it said.

Manila and Beijing have been locked in a long-standing maritime dispute.

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In 2013, the Philippines filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in the Netherlands challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The PCA ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim. Beijing has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.

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China ships forcing PH to drop Ayungin

PH wins arbitration case over South China Sea

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TAGS: DFA, maritime dispute, PH-China Relations, RV Legend incident, West Philippine Sea
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