Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to protest China’s latest alarming activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Locsin’s order came a day after Muntinlupa Representative Rozzano Rufino 'Ruffy' Biazon disclosed the continued presence of at least 150 Chinese vessels that are moving from “one spot to another” in the West Philippine Sea.
“@DFAPHL File now our protest on Chinese radio challenges unlawfully issued against Philippine maritime patrols,” Locsin said in his first tweet, without providing any details about the incident," he said in a tweet.
In his succeeding social media post, Locsin directed the DFA to file a protest over the “continued presence of Chinese fishing vessels in the vicinity of Iroquois Reef”, one of the unoccupied features in the Spratly Islands located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The DFA secretary, who was tweeting from the United States, also ordered his department to file a protest on China’s "incessant and unlawful restriction of Filipino fishermen from conducting legitimate fishing activities in Bajo de Masinloc”.
@DFAPHL File now our protest on China’s incessant and unlawful restriction of Filipino fishermen from conducting legitimate fishing activities in Bajo de Masinloc”.
Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal, is about 119 nautical miles away from Infanta in Pangasinan and way within the Philippines’ EEZ. Scarborough Shoal was the site of the April 2012 tense standoff between Philippine Navy’s BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and Chinese marine surveillance vessels over the intrusion of Chinese fishing vessels within the country’s EEZ.
During the deliberation of the National Security Council budget at the House of Representatives, Biazon said the swarming Chinese vessels look like “civilian vessels” that have some “strategic mission”.
In March this year, tensions between Manila and Beijing have heightened following the swarming of more than 200 Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) and in other maritime features within the Philippines’ EEZ.
As a result, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China following recommendations made by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.