Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has strongly rejected the proposal to post a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) attaché in Beijing, citing its implication to the country’s exclusive sovereignty over its coastal waters off the West Philippines Sea.
“Flat NO. We have a Defense attaché for national defense issues.,” Locsin said in a tweet Tuesday night.
Locsin explained that a separate Coast Guard attaché means “we concede exclusive sovereignty over our coastal waters so they are now subject to discussion instead of automatic protest.”
The DFA chief’s social media post was apparently in reaction to the reported “proposal” reached during a high-level meeting between the Philippines and China’s coast guards last January where both sides “recognized the importance of designating a coast guard attaché.”
In that meeting, the Philippines and Chinese coast guards expressed their desire to establish a “hotline communication mechanism” and “communication protocol for engagement at sea” to increase cooperation between Manila and Beijing.
Locsin’s objection came several days after the Philippines lodged a diplomatic protest against China over the Chinese Coast Guard’s illegal confiscation of fish aggregating devices belonging to Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in May.
In the same protest, the Philippines also objected to China’s continuing “illicit issuances of radio challenges” to Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea.
In response, China accused the Philippines of “illegal provocations,” saying the sending of military aircraft to patrol the Spratlys “infringes on China’s sovereignty and security.”