The Philippines urged China to respect its legal rights for maritime patrols following a close call with a Chinese coast guard ship in the West Philippine Sea. The Department of foreign affairs made this statement after the incident.
“First of all, I would like to emphasize that the Philippines has the legal right to carry out routine maritime patrols in our territorial waters and EEZ. The deployment of the BRP Malabrigo and BRP Malapascua in the West Philippine Sea from April 18 to 24 was one such mission,” DFA spokesperson Tess Daza said.
“The China Coast Guard's interference with this routine patrol mission was totally inconsistent with freedom of navigation, and a number of documented incidents also involved highly dangerous maneuvers that were contrary to standard navigational practices,” she added.
Daza reported that on April 23, near Ayungin Shoal, China Coast Guard vessel No. 5201 maneuvered within 50 yards of the BRP Malapascua, impeding its path and putting the Philippine crew at risk.
“Similar maneuvers were documented on April 19, involving CCG 5201 and 4202, and the BRP Malapascua while the latter was en route to Ayungin Shoal,” Daza said.
“We again call on China to respect the Philippines' rights over the West Philippine Sea, as provided by UNCLOS, and refrain from actions that may cause an untoward incident,” she added.
PH demands China to respect its rights after close call in West Philippine Sea
Over 100 Chinese vessels were observed by Philippine maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has maintained that the country will not relinquish any part of its territory, including the WPS, in the face of China's reported aggression in the region.
The UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in the hague dismissed China's nine-dash line claim over the entire South China Sea in July 2016 after a case was filed by the Philippines. The Philippines refers to some parts of the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.
China claimed that the recent near-collision resulted from the Philippine vessel's “premeditated and provocative action.”
“It was a premeditated and provocative action for the Philippine vessel to barge into the waters of Ren'ai Jiao with journalists on board, the aim was to deliberately find fault and take the opportunity to hype up the incident,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said at a regular press briefing.