President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Sunday that the recent “aggression and provocations” by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) and its Chinese maritime militia (CMM) in the West Philippine Sea only “further steeled” the country’s determination to stand its ground in the dispute.
This was after another incident of the CCG using water cannons on a Philippine resupply convoy to Ayungin Shoal was recorded.
“The aggression and provocations perpetrated by the China Coast Guard and their Chinese Maritime Militia against our vessels and personnel over the weekend have only further steeled our determination to defend and protect our nation’s sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” Marcos Jr. said in his official TwitterX account late Sunday.
President Marcos also added that he has been in constant communication with the country’s national security and defense leaders, and has directed uniformed services to “conduct their missions with the utmost regard for the safety of our personnel, yet proceed with a mission-oriented mindset.”
“Let me reiterate what is settled and widely recognized: Ayungin Shoal is within our Exclusive Economic Zone, any foreign claim of sovereignty over it is baseless and absolutely contrary to international law. Bajo de Masinloc is sovereign Philippine territory and an integral part of our archipelago,” he said.
“No one but the Philippines has a legitimate right or legal basis to operate anywhere in the West Philippine Sea. The illegal presence in our waters and dangerous actions against our citizens is an outright and blatant violation of international law and the rules-based international order… We remain undeterred,” he continued.
Among the incidents recorded in the area was a military-contracted civilian ship, Unaizah Mae 1, getting rammed by the CCG, according to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea.
Congress leaders have since condemned the incidents, describing them as “inhumane” and “a brazen disrespect for the rule of law.”
Also on Sunday, the “Atin Ito” coalition opted to return to El Nido, Palawan instead of pushing through with its mission to deliver gifts and donations to Philippine troops and residents in the West Philippine Sea.
The group said they were “erring on the side of caution” after their ship was shadowed by four Chinese vessels comprised of two Chinese Navy ships, one Chinese Coast Guard vessel, and one Chinese cargo ship.
The Philippines and China have a long history of maritime incidents in the contested West Philippine Sea, through which trillions of dollars of trade pass annually.
That is despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in 2016 that China’s claims over the waters have no legal basis and its construction of artificial islands in disputed waters was illegal.
Beijing refused to take part in the proceedings and has ignored the judgment.