PH files another diplomatic protest vs Beijing as Chinese vessels continue to linger in Julian Felipe Reef

Published April 7, 2021, 10:45 AM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippines is filing another diplomatic protest against China for the continued stay of Chinese vessels at Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) in the West Philippine Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Wednesday.

Photo of Chinese vessels spotted at the Julian Felipe Reef on March 27, 2021
(Photo courtesy of National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea / FILE PHOTO)

This conforms with the official statement earlier issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that it will lodge a diplomatic protest against Beijing for every day that its vessels would remain in local waters.

“Firing another diplomatic protest. Everyday til the last one’s gone like it should be by now if it is really fishing,” Locsin tweeted.

This is the third diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines in the span of 17 days since the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea disclosed the presence of more than 200 Chinese vessels, believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia, in Julian Felipe Reef, an area located 175 nautical miles from Bataraza town in Palawan.

Lawmakers, however, believed that diplomatic protests, even if filed daily, would not stop Chinese vessels from intruding in Philippine waters as proven by its pattern of behavior.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, in a statement, said diplomatic protests may not be too helpful anymore as “China continues to ignore the same.”

“Further, while it is a standard document used to call the attention of the other party, China’s consistent attitude of taking for granted such action taken by the DFA reduces it to a mere point of information,” Lacson added.

Senator Risa Hontiveros echoed Lacson’s statement even as she sees the need for international pressure against Beijing as diplomatic protests seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

On Tuesday, former DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario suggested that a demarche or a protest with purposeful direction should be conveyed to China through the United Nations as a possible course of action “to calibrate further actions”.

“Secretary Locsin indicated a demarche to China if the Chinese ‘fishing vessels’ or maritime militia are still to be seen around Julian Felipe Reef. The demarche should convey purposeful direction,” Del Rosario pointed out.