The Philippine government has filed a diplomatic protest after more than 200 Chinese ships were spotted near a reef within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. confirmed the protest Sunday night in connection with Chinese activities on Juan Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef).
“Diplomatic protest fired off tonight; can’t wait for first light,” Locsin said in a tweet.
Julian Felipe Reef is within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Philippines, northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs (Unions Reefs) approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
“I got the coordinates, so to speak. And relayed to my legal artillery, ‘Fire at will.’ Shell should be flying at first light. I don’t usually announce maneuvers but it seems everybody is baring his chest,” added the secretary, while sharing National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. recommended the protest.
Both the Department of National Defense (DND) and militant fishermen disliked the action of China, a country run by Chinese President Xi Jinping – a leader known to be a friend of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Philippines protests 220 Chinese militia ships West Philippine Sea reef
“This is a clear provocative action of militarizing the area. These are territories well within Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS) where Filipinos have the sole right to resources under international law and the 2016 arbitral ruling,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory. We are committed to uphold our sovereign rights over the WPS.”
The DND is said to be in contact with the Philippine Coast Guard, National Task Forces for the West Philippine Sea, and DFA for appropriate action to protect Filipino fishermen, water resources, and peace in the West Philippine Sea.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines will now conduct “sovereignty patrols” to further ensure the accuracy of the said report-that and even the NTF-WPS and PCG itself.
Meanwhile, the National Force of the Philippine Fishermen’s Movement (PAMALAKAYA) has condemned this alleged “blatant military aggression” by China, something that the government should immediately address.