Despite diplomatic protests filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs against China in connection with the latter’s ships on the Julian Felipe Reef, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday that the Philippines does not cover that part of the ocean.
“We’re making a big thing out of the fact, when that area was never under our possession,” said Roque in a Palace briefing.
“Ang talagang nag-aagawan sa Julian Felipe, Vietnam at China,” he added.
Roque, however, said the government is not dismissing the claim to such an area.
“Our claim is Julian Felipe Reef is an island and an island generates maritime territory. Pero ni hindi nga po ‘yan kabahagi ng arbitration natin, napakalayo talaga niyan sa atin. Pero hindi po natin binabalewala ang claim natin,” he insisted.
Several diplomatic protests were filed by DFA Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin against China after seeing Chinese vessels on the Julian Felipe Reef, which is said to be part of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, since March.
Julian Felipe Reef not part of the Philippine EEZ – Roque
From more than 200 in March, the number of Chinese vessels on Julian Felipe Reef is said to have significantly decreased.
After Roque’s statement, Locsin said in a Twitter post that international diplomacy should be left to the DFA.
“My God just came in on a very early flight; all this was settled last night: somebody dropped the ball of possession; later he picked up the paper of maritime features not generating their own EEZ just in case we drop the ball of possession yet again and lose our EEZ. Now this?” said the DFA chief.
“This is my last warning. When it comes to foreign affairs the Department of Foreign Affairs has the exclusive remit,” said Locsin.
“I don’t come from diplomacy; I come from a life that settled the hash of a lotta people who talked tough and ended up biting dirt. I don’t talk, I deal,” he added.