Tolentino: Recall PH envoy amid China provocations in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Tolentino sought an “urgent recall” of Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz following Beijing’s latest provocations in the West Philippine Sea.
For the senator, the country should step up amid China’s increasing intimidation of Filipinos within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Over the weekend, the China Coast Guard (CCG) rammed and water cannoned Philippine vessels on humanitarian and resupply missions in the West Philippine Sea. The CCG’s latest aggressive behaviors within the Philippine EEZ happened as a fleet of Philippine boats launched a Christmas voyage to bring gifts to Filipino troops aboard the grounded BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).
“I emphatically call for the urgent recall of the Philippine Ambassador to China,” Tolentino said in a statement.
“Our nation cannot afford to maintain diplomatic complacency when our citizens are subjected to harassment and intimidation [in] our exclusive economic zone,” the chairperson of the Senate’s special committee on maritime and admiralty zones also said.
Similar to Tolentino’s stand, other senators aired their frustrations and condemnations against China’s aggressions in the West Philippine Sea.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to expel Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.
“He has done nothing to address the continued attacks of his government on our troops and our people,” Zubiri said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva reiterated that the West Philippine Sea belongs to the Philippines no matter how many big ships China uses to block Filipino vessels.
In 2016, the arbitral tribunal ruled overwhelmingly in favor of the Philippines, determining that China’s claim in the South China Sea, including its nine-dash line and other activities in Philippine waters, was unlawful.
But despite this ruling, Chinese fishing vessels continue to swarm Philippine waters.