The government has not yet made a move to redeploy patrol vessels to the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal even as three Chinese ships remain in the vicinity, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario.
“We had pulled out our ships because of bad weather. There were significant storms there in the last couple of months. The president decided at that time to pull out those ships. We have not made a move to restore the patrol of that area,” Del Rosario said Monday in an interview on GMA News TV’s “News To Go.”.
Del Rosario recalled that China agreed to pull out its ships from the shoal last June, only to redeploy them two days later.
“Ultimately they are now down to three ships in the vicinity of the shoal, but we continue to ask them to pull out their ships completely to be able to respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines in that area,” he said.
He also said the government continues to await a response from the Chinese government regarding the reported “new law” that will allow Chinese authorities to interdict any foreign vessel that enter waters claimed by China, which includes parts of the West Philippine Sea.
“We have officially requested China both in Beijing and Manila to immediately clarify this reported law…we are until now awaiting the response to our request,” Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario reiterated what the Department of Foreign Affairs had said in an earlier statement that the reported new law will affect not only the Philippines but other countries as well.
“We want to be able to validate whether the reports of Xinhua and China Daily are accurate. Because if it is accurate, then we are saying that this new law plans to interdict foreign ships. Not only our ships…all foreign ships are subject to interdiction,” Del Rosario said. — Amanda Lago/KBK, GMA News