Romualdez to China: Stop ‘aggressive activities’ in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez urged China to take “concrete actions to cease […] aggressive activities” within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone as he condemned the latest hostile behavior of China against Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, the top leader of the House of Representatives also said the international community must be repeatedly reminded of the July 2016 arbitral award that favored the Philippines’ case against China concerning the South China Sea.
“The use of water cannons and long-range acoustic devices against our vessels, causing significant damage and distress to our crew, is unacceptable and unjustifiable,” Romualdez said Sunday.
On Saturday morning, the China Coast Guard (CCG) fired a water cannon at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels Datu Sanday, Datu Bankaw, and Datu Tamblot which were on a humanitarian mission to bring supplies to Filipino fishermen near Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) off Zambales province.
“It is imperative to remind the international community that Bajo de Masinloc lies within the Philippines’ 370-km exclusive economic zone. The 2016 arbitral ruling, which China continues to ignore, invalidated its expansive claims over the South China Sea, including areas within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines,” he added.
The Speaker likewise said China should “respect the sovereignty of the Philippines, desist from actions that infringe upon it, and engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve disputes.”
“The Philippines, as a sovereign nation, will continue to defend its rights and protect the interests of its people. We stand in solidarity with our fishermen and reiterate our unwavering commitment to safeguarding our national territory and maritime entitlements,” Romualdez stressed.
“Let this incident be a reminder to the international community of the urgent need to uphold and respect international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and to support nations in defending their sovereign rights,” he added.
On Sunday morning, the CCG rammed and water cannoned Philippine vessels during a regular rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission to BRP Sierra Madre on Sunday, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela said.
The involved Philippine vessels were BRP Cabra, Unaizah Mae 1, and M/L Kalayaan, which even sustained “serious engine damage,” according to the PCG official.