President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to conduct a maritime investigation after calling for a special Command Conference of the national security and defense clusters on Monday morning to look into China’s recent harassment of Philippine vessels in West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“The President called a special Command Conference this morning of the national security and defense clusters in order to be briefed and to give his guidance on the latest violation by China of the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines,” Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said in a statement during a press briefing in Malacañang.
“The Philippine government views the latest aggression by China as a blatant violation of international law. China has no legal right or authority to conduct law enforcement operations in our territorial waters. We are taking this incident seriously at the highest level of government.”
The PCG has been directed by the President to proceed swiftly with its maritime investigation in accordance with international maritime safety regulations. The PCG said it is looking to complete its investigation in five days.
China’s recent action is a serious escalation of the illegal activities conducted by the Chinese government in the WPS and in complete disregard of any norm or convention of international law, according to the defense chief.
He added that Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian has been summoned also on Monday by Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo to condemn China’s reckless and illegal act.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz was also instructed to convey the same message to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Teodoro said that the Philippines acknowledged the support of its allies and like-minded nations such as the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and European Union in condemning China’s aggression and expansionist actions.
At the same time, he called on the Filipino people to stand behind the government in executing its constitutional mandate to secure the national interest in the WPS.
“Hinihimok na lang po natin ang pagkakaisa ng ating bansa sa likod ng gobyerno sa ating mga hakbang upang i-secure ang territorial integrity and sovereignty ng ating republika,” the defense secretary said during the press briefing.
“Kaya po minabuti ng ating pamahalaan, sa liderato po ng ating Pangulo, na maghayag ngayong araw na ito upang sa ganun ay huwag na pong kumalat ang fake news at anumang mga espekulasyon. Kaya maniwala na lang po sa ating gobyerno at huwag po itong maging ugat ng pagtatanim ng fake news ng Tsina at ng iba upang tayo’y magkawatak-watak.”
The Philippine Navy and the PCG said that the Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels harassed and intentionally hit Unaizah May 2 and PCG vessel BRP Cabra on Saturday, which is a blatant violation of international law.
The Philippine vessels were conducting a legitimate rotation and re-supply (RORE) mission within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. | PND
Photo Courtesy of PCO