DFA: Be careful of China's narratives over West Philippine Sea

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has warned the public against China's narratives in the South China Sea, which are usually crafted in line with its own interests.

Ma. Teresita Daza, DFA spokesperson, said Wednesday, March 6, that "we have to be very careful" about China's pronouncement, particularly when the Asian giant already being given a platform.

"Because if we mount it and we give them the platform to actually present the narratives, more people will believe in," Daza said at a joint briefing of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).

There were two situations which Daza cited. One was China's claim that its rights over the whole South China is based on history, although the 2016 Arbitral Award and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) already debunked it.

The other is that China claimed that the Arbitral Award has no basis because they did not participate during its proceedings. But Daza asserted that China had the opportunity to respond but it refused to do so.

That's the reason why, Daza said, the Philippine government is earnest in presenting its position and the facts when certain scenarios happen in the ocean, particularly in the West Philippine Sea, which China claims to be its own.

"So there are many narratives that come out. And it's important for all of us, in the Philippines, from government, to the private sector, and to the media, to actually question the narratives that are being posted on us," she said.

Daza said the Philippine government found "irresponsible" China's fresh act of aggression in the West Philippine Sea, where its coast guard blocked the path of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that led to collision and injury of four Filipino crew.

China justified its action, saying it did so to protect its supposed territorial integrity over the waters. China also claimed it was the Philippines that was provoking tension.

But Daza also rejected such remark. She said the Philippines is never remiss in de-escalating tension and pushing for diplomacy.

Daza said the Philippines always expressed commitment to pursue diplomacy, manage disputes through dialogue and even improve the existing communication mechanism between the two sides.

The Foreign Affairs official reiterated that the Philippines did not make any promise about relinquishing any inch of its territory, which had also been repeatedly said by President Marcos, to counter China's claim that Manila broke its promise of removing the grounded Philippine ship in the Ayungin Shoal.

"The Philippines has not entered into any agreement. I repeat, the Philippines has not entered into any agreement, abandoning its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and continental shelf, including in the vicinity of the Ayungin Shoal," she said.

"China's unlawful exercise of maritime law enforcement... or any other activity that infringes upon Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Ayungin Shoal, are violations of international law," she added.