Marcos views China harassment in WPS with ‘great alarm,’ to protest provocations

Marcos views China harassment in WPS with ‘great alarm,’ to protest provocations
Photo from PCG

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, that he continues to view the provocations and harassment by China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) against Philippine vessels with “great alarm.”

In an interview with reporters before heading back to the Philippines from Australia, Marcos said the government will protest the recent provocations by China.

But he said he does not think China’s recent actions would be a reason to invoke the country’s Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States.

Marcos views China harassment in WPS with ‘great alarm,’ to protest provocations
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“We continue to view with great alarm this continuing dangerous maneuvers and dangerous actions that are being done against our seamen, our Coast Guard. And this time, they damaged cargo ship and caused some injury to some of our seamen and I think that we cannot view this any way but in the most serious way,” Marcos said.

“Once again, we will make our objections known and hope that we can continue to communicate to find the way so that such actions are no longer seen in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Earlier this week, China Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels harassed, blocked, deployed water cannons, and executed dangerous maneuvers to obstruct a routine Philippine resupply and rotation mission to BRP Sierra Madre deliberately grounded off Ayungin Shoal.

China accused the Philippines of “violating” an agreement during the RORE mission, which the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) vehemently denied, noting that no agreement exists in terms of the country’s sovereignty over the WPS.

Marcos views China harassment in WPS with ‘great alarm,’ to protest provocations
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The incident resulted in the collision of Philippine and Chinese vessels, causing injury to four Filipino security forces and damage to the country’s boats.

Marcos also described as “great concern” the reported sightings of Chinese research vessels in Benham Rise.

The President said it is a clear intrusion into the Philippine maritime territory.

“The presence of Chinese ships in the area is absolutely unnecessary because if it is truly a research vessel, both sides could have come to a simple agreement for those research vessels to ply Philippine waters and conduct such research,” said Marcos.

“However, there is a suspicion that they are not only research vessels so, again, this is a bit of an escalation of the tension that is present in the West Philippines Sea,” he added.

Marcos views China harassment in WPS with ‘great alarm,’ to protest provocations
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As he condemned China, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro urged Beijing to “to be truthful and to be believable,” saying its acts in the WPS are “patently illegal and downright uncivilized.”

He said the propaganda mechanisms of the People’s Republic of China attempts to justify their illegal acts against Philippine vessels on their so-called “indisputable” claim over most of the South China Sea.

“They take great pains to mischaracterize their provocations as lawful under international law and the actions of their CCG and Maritime Militia as professional, restrained, reasonable, and lawful,” said Teodoro.

“This claim is, simply put, one that no right-thinking State in the world agrees with and which many outright condemn. The PRC's vain attempt to manufacture and sell this story falters in the face of real incontrovertible facts,” he added.

In his speech at the Lowy Institute Peace and Resilient Amidst Great Power Rivalries: The Philippine Perspective in Melbourne, Australia on Monday, March 4, Marcos said the Philippines will be compelled to push back its partnership with China when the principle of the two countries is questioned or ignored amid tensions in the South China Sea.

Marcos also vowed to continue to upgrade the capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard and pursue the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines amid the tension in the disputed territory.

Other countries, including the US and France, have expressed concern over the latest incidents in the WPS.

France called for respect for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and in particular for freedom of navigation, and resolutely opposes any threat or use of force contrary to international law. It reiterates its commitment to resolving disputes through dialogue. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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