DFA won’t protest China’s coast guard law

Published February 13, 2021, 10:36 AM

by Raymund Antonio

The Philippines will not raise the issue of China’s controversial new Coast Guard law before The Hague or any international tribunal, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, adding that the arbitral award in 2016 leaves “no room for interpretation” on the maritime rights in the West Philippine Sea.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)(MANILA BULLETIN)

In a position paper, the DFA said that the awarding to the Philippines of the arbitral ruling in 2016 “is already established under international law, and has been recognized by numerous states.”

That ruling was based on the case filed by former President Benigno Aquino III’s administration against China for its encroachment in the islands and waters of the West Philippine Sea.

“There is no room for interpretation as there is no issue on the maritime rights and jurisdictions on the West Philippine Sea that demands the resort to an international court to resolve,” the DFA said.

The department was reacting to the interview of Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang XiLian with CNN’s Pinky Webb. The envoy said that China’s Coast Guard “will not take strong measures against any fishermen—before or after the formulation of the law.”

“Sometimes, unnecessary interpretation or reading of such domestic activities of China is not necessary,” he added.

Beijing’s new coast guard law, which took effect on February 1, allows it to fire at foreign vessels in reefs and islands in the West Philippine Sea where China has contested claims with the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.

China, however, claims this is not the purpose of the sweeping new law.

The DFA insisted that the international law—the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), specifically—“is clear about the extent of maritime rights and jurisdictions of coastal states” in the region.

“Any threat or use of force and attempt at exercising law enforcement that are not in accordance with international law is objectionable, illegal, and negates efforts to ensure peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea.”

Foreign Affairs chief Teodoro Locsin Jr. has already butted heads with Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque who suggested that the Philippines bring China’s new Coast Guard law before a United Nations tribunal.

Locsin, however, reminded Roque to stay out of foreign policies.