THE Philippines has filed a diplomatic note against China over Beijing’s aggressive military actions on its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), Malacañang confirmed Thursday, May 31.
“We did,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a text message to Palace reporters, when asked whether the Philippine government has lodged a diplomatic protest against China.
“The current administration has acted on incidents, which occurred in the disputed areas over the West Philippine Sea by taking diplomatic actions with China,” he added.
The filing of protest was part of the Philippine government’s bid to pursue all diplomatic avenues to address China’s massive land reclamation of the resource-rich South China Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday said the Duterte administration is protecting the country's territory and sovereignty by filing diplomatic protests against China.
Read: Cayetano says PH asserting rights over disputed sea quietly
China, which has expansive claims over the South China Sea, has reportedly continued to boost its war capabilities by “quietly” installing missile systems on Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Subi (Zamora), and Mischief (Panganiban) reefs in the Spratly Islands.
It has also allegedly carried out take-off and landing drills of its strategic bombers on Woody Island, Beijing’s largest base in the Paracel Islands.
Roque assured that President Rodrigo Duterte was not giving up the Philippines’ sovereign rights to its territories in the contested waters.
“The President, who is the chief architect of the nation’s foreign policy, will not sit on our rights and will never give away even an inch of territory,” the Palace official said.
“We will resort to all diplomatic initiatives, including filing of diplomatic protests, when warranted but without (fanfare),” he added.
On May 22, Duterte said he also wanted to deal with China in a “stronger” and “more violent” approach, but stressed that he could not yet afford to do so as the Philippines is not capable of waging war against Beijing.
The President said that all he could do for now is to befriend China, saying the Philippines might suffer from a “great loss” if it takes an adversarial stance with regard to the South China Sea disputes.
"I really want to do something to assert, but you know when I assume the presidency, there was already a ruckus in the West Philippine Sea... In every common sense that's available to me -- I would have taken a stronger but probably a more violent way of doing it," Duterte said.
"In my own estimation, it would be a great loss to the nation and probably end up losing a war. And all of these things, I would have wanted to made known to you whether you accept it or not, that is the reality on the ground. Ir's geopolitics. You well know what are at stake," he added. (SunStar Philippines)