The reported pursuit of a Filipino boat by two Chinese militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea last week “squarely calls for a demarche that is direct, purposeful and pointed” as the move was “tantamount to territorial incursion,” former Ambassador Albert del Rosario said Saturday.
In a statement, Del Rosario, chairman of the Stratbase ADR Institute, also repeated his call earlier in the week for the Duterte administration to inform the United Nations through the office of UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres of China’s actions in the disputed waterway.
“China’s sea assets (first by her coast guard and then by Type 022 Houbei fast attack craft with two mounted missiles) chase of a Philippine civilian boat in West Philippine Sea and already into Palawan is tantamount to territorial incursion,” the former Foreign Affairs secretary added.
“The incident squarely calls for a demarche that is direct, purposeful and pointed,” added Del Rosario.
As for informing the United Nations, “Such UN notification will form part of official PH communications, including those required under Article 51 of the UN Charter relating to individual and collective self-defense,” he said.
“As previously submitted, we respectfully suggested that a joint patrol agreement of the WPS be revisited between the US and the Ph which had been approved by then-Deputy Secretary Anthony Blinken,” Del Rosario said.
The agreement was not pursued by President Rodrigo Duterte “as he was concerned that it would displease Beijing,” the former envoy said.
On Tuesday, del Rosario backed the filing of a demarche to protest through diplomatic channels the presence of over 200 Chinese militia vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef.
“Perhaps it is time to explore fully all possible options for other concrete actions with the United Nations, more so now, with the recent Western powers’ manifestations for the rule of law to prevail in line with the tribunal decision,” he said.
The former DFA chief recalled that last year, Duterte at the UN even stated the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea and the 2016 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Arbitral Tribunal decision, where the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China’s massive claims over the South China Sea and upheld the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the WPS.
On the plan of current Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to issue a demarche, Del Rosario said: “One possible action to calibrate subsequent actions is to inform the United Nations formally through the Secretary General.”