The Philippine government on Monday announced that it has protested the “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges” made by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) against Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on April 24-25, 2021.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it has also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence” of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.
It noted that from January 1 to March 18, 2021, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies monitored the continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), particularly in the areas around the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll, and Bajo de Masinloc.
In the two-page statement, the Philippines rejected the April 26, 2021 statement of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that China enjoys sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc.
“It is without basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is not recognized by the international community,” the DFA said.
It maintained that the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction.
“The Philippines’ conduct of maritime patrols and training exercises in these areas is a legitimate and routine act of a sovereign country in its territory and territorial waters and is part of the Philippines’ administrative responsibility,” it added.
Furthermore, the Philippines called on China to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty.
“China has no law enforcement rights in these areas. The presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the Philippines’ territorial waters of Pag-asa Islands and Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone, raises serious concern. The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty,” the government said in the statement.