National Security Adviser Eduardo Año reiterated on Tuesday that the Philippines has the right to patrol Scarborough Shoal after China accused a Philippine military ship of “illegally” entering the area.
In response to the Chinese military’s assertion, Año stated that China was “overhyping” the incident and causing tensions with the Philippines.
“Under international law, the Philippines has every right to patrol the length and breadth of the West Philippine Sea which necessarily includes Bajo de Masinloc which is well within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” Año said.
“China is again over hyping this incident and creating unnecessary tensions between our two nations,” he added.
Año urged China to act responsibly, adhere to international laws, and cease aggressive and unlawful actions in Philippine waters.
“We urge China to act responsibly, respect UNCLOS, adhere to the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, promote the rules-based international order, and stop its aggressive and illegal actions in PH waters,” he added.
UNCLOS stands for the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, often called the constitution of the seas.
PH asserts rights to patrol Scarborough Shoal
A former military chief of staff, Año, mentioned that the Philippine ship PS39 carried out routine patrol operations in the general vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc “without any untoward incident.”
“It did not illegally enter any space under Chinese sovereignty because Bajo de Masinloc is part of the PH archipelago and EEZ,” he said.
When questioned about the issue, AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar informed reporters that China’s claim is “not true.”
“An illegal occupant cannot prevent the legitimate owner from entering his house and backyard,” Aguilar said.
Año stated that Chinese vessels engaged in shadowing the movement of the Filipino boat. Despite China’s actions, he emphasized that the AFP and the PCG would not be deterred by the “aggressive and illegal activities” of China’s PLAN Navy and Coast Guard, as well as Chinese militias in the West Philippine Sea.
On Monday, China’s military asserted that a Philippine military ship had “illegally entered” waters near Scarborough Shoal without authorization and urged the Philippines to cease its provocations.
This statement represents an unusual warning from the Chinese military to the Philippines regarding its actions in disputed waters in the South China Sea. Previous warnings from the Chinese military were primarily directed at US warships in the region.