Senators criticize continued presence of Chinese militia vessels in WPS

Senators on Monday expressed their opposition to the continued presence of Chinese militia vessels at t Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.

“Ang titigas ng ulo (How stubborn). The Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe reef should leave immediately. If they are fishing vessels as China claims, then they can’t fish in our Exclusive Economic Zone without our consent. Misunderstanding nga ba o sadya na tayong niloloko?” Senator Risa Hontiveros said.

According to China, Julian Felipe Reef is part of their historical claim according to their nine-dash line map, even though the area is part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Julian Felipe Reef, called Niu’e Jiao by the Chinese is located 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan.

Hontiveros noted China has long been using “civilian” vessels to push its military activities in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). She noted China is being “Asia’s biggest bully.”

“Instead of uniting the region, it has united the region against it. How long can such a regime hold any sort of mandate to lead the region?” she said.

Senators criticize continued presence of Chinese militia vessels in WPS

“We need to act now. We need to expel these ‘fishing vessels’ from our EEZ and dismantle all illegal structures on the reefs and features we claim. Every delay on our end is an opportunity for China to seize what is justly and rightfully ours,” she added.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon shared the same sentiments with Hontiveros, calling the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine sea a “maritime bullying.”

“It is high time that the country as one nation stand up to China’s continued incursion in the West Philippine Sea. By all accounts, it is maritime bullying,” he said.

“The Philippine should pursue, and strongly and actively for, the enforcement of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague,” he added.

Earlier, said the remaining 44 Chinese militia vessels should leave Julian Felipe Reef.

“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan,” Lorenzana said of the Chinese ambassador’s explanation that the Chinese militia vessels were hiding in the area due to bad weather.