Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 4) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) called as illegal the Chinese vessels swarming around Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement on Thursday, the DFA said Pag-asa, seat of the Kalayaan municipal government under the province of Palawan, “is an integral part of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”
“Accordingly, the presence of Chinese vessels near and around Pag-asa and other maritime features in the KIG (Kalayaan Island Group) is illegal,” the DFA said.
It added that the Chinese government is considered adopting these actions if it does not renounce them.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said Beijing is verifying reports that its vessels have been surrounding Pag-asa. He said the ships may be manned by “unarmed” Chinese fishermen, but Malacañang said reports from the military suggest militiamen have been deployed there.
“The presence of Chinese vessels within the KIG, whether military, fishing or other vessels, will thus continue to be the subject of appropriate action by the Philippines,” the DFA said.
Locsin orders filing of protest
Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin, Jr. ordered the DFA to study the presence of Chinese vessels and file a diplomatic protest, as called by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
“Okay guys at DFA, let’s look into this and file ASAP if not too late. Let us see if we can undo the fuck-ups of previous administrations that sold us,” Locsin’s tweet read. Malacañang’s previous statements varied, as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on different occasions said it was already filed, “on the way” or “most likely” filed.