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DFA urged to summon China envoy over latest incursions

Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling on the Department of Foreign Affairs to summon the Chinese Ambassador once again due to the presence of 100 additional Chinese ships reportedly within the country’s exclusive economic zone at the West Philippine Sea.

“The DFA should again summon the Chinese Ambassador for a serious talk,” she said.

According to Hontiveros, she trusts the DFA will lodge another diplomatic protest regarding the issue.

“Instead of de-escalating the tensions in the disputed waters, they doubled down. This clearly shows that China is shamelessly hellbent on aggravating the situation,” she said.

For the past several months, she said the Philippines had been appealing to stop China’s incursions, but the appeals were simply ignored.

“We, as a nation, are owed dignity and respect,” Hontiveros said.

According to a report by data analysis company Simularity, since May, the number of likely Chinese ships spiked from 129 to 238, an increase of over 100 ships.

The report detailed that “between mid-May and mid-June 2021, the number of ships within the Union Banks increased from 9 to 236 and the number of ships near Gaven (Burgos) Reef in Tizard Bank decreased from 234 to 71.”

The senator also renewed her call for Malacañang to unambiguously condemn China’s incessant presence in the WPS.

Earlier, she urged the Palace to strictly refrain from releasing statements that weaken our claim in our own waters. She believes Malacañang should have a clear position against China’s incursions, like that of the DFA as well as the Department of National Defense.

“The Palace should look Beijing straight in the eye and tell her to remove her ships from our territories,” added Hontiveros.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday declared that the arbitral award given by the Permanent Court of Arbitration five years ago in favor of the Philippines, which spelled out the country’s maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, was final, even China as rejected efforts to undermine the United Nations-backed PCA ruling.

“The award conclusively settled the status of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea,” Locsin said, in his message ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Philippines’ victory before the arbitral tribunal which was constituted under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which issued the final award.

On July 12, 2016, the UN-backed PCA in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines, which invalidated China’s nine-dash lines claims in the South China Sea and upheld the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing rejected the ruling and continued to insist on its historical claims over almost the entire South China Sea.

“The award is final. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history, and our collective memories,” Locsin said.

“In summary, the award gives littoral states guideposts on how much waters their features—be they islands or rocks—can generate, where their fishermen can fish, where they can exercise law enforcement patrols, where they can send their ships without permission from the nearest state, without creating a cause of action or a casus belli (Latin term referring to an act used to justify a war) between them,” Locsin added.

According to Locsin, the Philippines is proud to have contributed to “the strengthening of the legal order over the seas.”

Underlining the finality of the arbitral ruling, the country’s top diplomat cited President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration before the UN General Assembly last September that the award was “beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon.”

“It benefits the world across the board. We do not see it as directed at any other country, near or far. We see it as it should be seen: as favoring all which are similarly situated by clarifying definitively a legal situation beyond the reach of arms to change. It puts this aspect of international law beyond the limit of prescription,” Locsin pointed out.

“The Arbitral Award became and continues to be a milestone in the corpus of international law. It is available to other countries with the same problematic maritime features as ours. It puts one issue out of the way of conflict; because there is nothing there taken by force that results in any gain in law,” he said.

Topics: Department of Foreign Affairs , Chinese ships , exclusive economic zone , West Philippine Sea
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