An irate Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday ordered his department to file a diplomatic protest against China over the presence of 287 Chinese vessels in Philippine waters as earlier announced by the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).
In a series of tweets, Locsin was fuming mad as to why the NTF-WPS issued a press release without informing the DFA first.
“@DFAPH fire diplomatic protest. Maybe these idiots (NTF-WPS) will have learned the protocol next time. I took this up with the President in Davao. We have a disease: everybody and his uncle wants to be a hero fighting China from anonymity of a task force,” Locsin said.
In a press release on May 12, the NTF-WPS said a maritime patrol conducted on May 9 monitored at least 287 China vessels scattered in various features of the municipality of Kalayaan, a blatant disregard to the series of diplomatic protests filed by the DFA from March to April this year.
The country’s top diplomat is seeking an answer from the NTF-WPS why it made such an announcement without even informing the DFA ahead of time.
“First NTF-WPS will explain to me why it made a press release and did not inform DFA so the only news today would be DFA fires diplomatic protest over the presence of 287 Chinese vessels. S—t,” he said.
Locsin, a former journalist and a columnist in his own publication, even lectured the NTF-WPS on how a message could be effectively achieved to “kill 2 birds with one stone”.
“When press released first it states the fact of alien presence in Philippine territory construable as possession-once again-until a diplomatic protest is filed. If the only news is diplomatic protest over alien presence you kill 2 birds with one stone: possession and claim of right,” he said.
In the same NTF-WPS release, the task force maintained that the Julian Felipe Reef is part of Philippine territory, contrary to the claims made by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that the feature is outside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“The JFR is a low tide elevation located 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan and within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone,” the NTF WPS said.