Philippines files new protest vs Chinese Coast Guard in Panatag Shoal

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has launched another diplomatic protest over the recent actions of the in the Panatag Shoal (also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal), as well as over their long-term fishing and presence in Philippine maritime zones.

From April 24 to 25, the Coast Guard (CCG) will block and challenge the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) who was training and patrolling the area.

“The [DFA] has protested the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneauver and radio challenges by the [CCG] of [PCG] vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training excercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on 24 to 25 April 2021,” DFA said on Monday.

“It has also protested the incessant, illegal, prolonged and increasing presence of fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”

From January 1 to March 18, 2021, hundreds of vessels were spotted in the West Philippine Sea, specifically in:

  • Hope Islands
  • Zamora Reef
  • Panata Island
  • Island City
  • Ayungin Shoal
  • Quirino Atoll
  • Bajo de Masinloc

Philippines files new protest vs Chinese Coast Guard in Panatag Shoal

The DFA and Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies maintain that the stay of such vessels in such areas is “unauthorized.” In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration favored the Philippines when it came to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA issued the statement days after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin asserted Beijing’s “sovereignty” over small islands and land features in the West Philippine Sea while suspending Manila’s activities in resource-rich waters.

The DFA did not ignore Wang’s statements and stressed that China has no basis for its actions under law. The international community also does not recognize such a position.

“China has no law enforcement rights in these areas. The presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the Philippines’ territorial waters of Pag-asa Islands and Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone, raises serious concern. The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty,” the government said.

“The Philippines calls on China to withdraw its government vessels around the [Kalayaan Island Group] and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty.”

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