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PH to ‘do more’ vs. China‘s illegal acts

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Marcos says protests no longer enough

President Marcos said Thursday that the Philippines needs to do more than protest Beijing’s “illegal actions” in the West Philippine Sea.

“We have filed over a hundred protests. We have already made a similar number of demarches,” Mr. Marcos told reporters.

“We have to do more than just that,” he said, without

specifying what other steps Manila might take.

The Philippines this week filed a diplomatic protest over a brutal incident in Ayungin Shoal between Filipino troops and China Coast Guard (CCG) and maritime militia personnel on June 17, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said Wednesday.

Chinese coast guard personnel wielding knives, sticks and an axe surrounded and boarded three Filipino navy boats last week, foiling what the Armed Forces of the Philippines said was a resupply mission to troops manning the grounded warship BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal.

Mr. Marcos also reiterated that while the June 17 incident did not constitute an armed attack, it was deliberate and illegal.

“It’s not armed. There was no gunshot. They did not point a gun at us, but it was a deliberate action to stop our people,” the commander-in-chief said.

“So, although there were no arms involved, nonetheless, it is still a deliberate action and it is essentially an illegal action that was taken by Chinese forces.”

The June 17 incident was the latest and most serious in a series of escalating confrontations between Chinese and Philippine ships as Beijing steps up efforts to push its claims to nearly all of the strategically located waterway.

The clashes have raised concern the conflict will draw in the United States, which is bound by a 1951 mutual defense pact to come to Manila’s aid in case of an “armed attack” on its forces or vessels in the Pacific theater.

In a readout, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said he reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad” commitment under the Mutual Defense Treaty during a call with Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

Manila likewise raised concerns that Chinese forces might take action against BRP Sierra Madre, where a small garrison of Filipino Marines stationed aboard the decrepit vessel relies on frequent resupply for survival.

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo told a Senate hearing that Manila hopes to convene a meeting with Beijing early next month “specifically to discuss the recent incidents.”

Ayungin Shoal lies about 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the Palawan and more than 1,000 kilometers from China’s nearest major landmass, Hainan island.

China deploys coast guard and other boats to patrol the waters around the shoal and has turned several reefs into artificial militarized islands. With AFP

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline: “Marcos says Philippines must ‘do more’ than protest China sea actions”


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