The Philippine government has expressed its “utmost displeasure” over the presence of Chinese vessels off the Julian Felipe Reef.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on Monday to convey the message and reiterated its “firm Philippine demand that China ensures the immediate departure of all its vessels from the area of Julian Felipe Reef and other maritime zones of the Philippines.”
DFA Acting Undersecretary Elizabeth Buensuceso stressed to Huang that Julian Felipe Reef lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and that the Chinese vessels around the feature are a “source of regional tension.”
She stressed that the July 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration ruled that “claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are without lawful effect.”
Regarding the previous untoward statements of the Chinese embassy spokesperson on Defense Secretary Lorenzana, Buensuceso reminded the Chinese side of proper decorum and manners in the conduct of their duties as guests of the Philippines.
“Both sides affirmed the use of peaceful settlement of disputes in addressing their differences on the South China Sea/West Philippines issue,” the DFA said in its statement Tuesday.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in a tweet on Tuesday, said there are still nine Chinese ships left in the area.
In previous statements, the Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted China has “historical rights in the South China Sea.”
In a separate tweet, Locsin said tradition yields to law and the law on the matter is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award.
“There are a little over a dozen left. Come, come, time to go. As I said, while it may well be traditional fishing grounds, tradition yields to law and the law on the matter are UNCLOS and The Arbitral Award and the common rules of statutory construction,” Locsin said, adding that the incursions “achieve nothing in law as fishing is not an act of possession nor a claim of ownership.”