Año: PH Navy patrol in Scarborough uneventful despite China ship tailing
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Navy warship BRP Conrado Yap (PS39) on Monday patrolled Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea “without untoward incident” despite the constant shadowing of Chinese vessels.
National Security Adviser Eduardo Año disclosed this Tuesday while slamming China for “overhyping” and “creating unnecessary tensions” between Manila and Beijing over mundane patrols within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
Scarborough Shoal is also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal.
“PS39 (BRP Conrado Yap) conducted routine patrol operations in the general vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc without any untoward incident,” Año said in a statement.
“China is again overhyping this incident and creating unnecessary tensions between our two nations,” he added.
The Chinese military claimed that the Philippine Navy vessel committed trespassing when it patrolled the waters near Scarborough Shoal “without the approval of the Chinese government.”
“We urge the Philippine side to immediately stop its infringement and provocation to avoid further escalation,” a spokesperson from People’s Liberation Army Southern Theater Command said in a statement Monday.
But Año rejected China’s pronouncement, saying: “It did not illegally enter any space under Chinese sovereignty because Bajo de Masinloc is part of the [Philippine] archipelago and EEZ.”
Beijing maintained its purported sovereignty in Scarborough Shoal, contravening a 2016 ruling of an international tribunal, which said that the sandbar was a traditional fishing site for several countries, including the Philippines.
Scarborough Shoal’s lagoon is currently under China’s control after a standoff with the Philippines in 2012.
The Philippines’ security adviser asked China to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and the 2016 Arbitral Ruling and to stop its incursion in the West Philippine Sea.
“We urge China to act responsibly, respect Unclos, adhere to the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, promote the rules-based international order, and stop its aggressive and illegal actions in [Philippine] waters,” said Año, a former chief of staff of the Philippines’ Armed Forces of the Philippines.
China has been asserting that it owns most of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, through its 10-dash line, which used to be the nine-dash line.
Manila lodged a case against Beijing’s nine-dash line claim, which an international tribunal eventually invalidated via the 2016 Arbitral Award. The international tribunal’s decision favored the Philippines, but China continuously ignored the ruling.