China reprimanded for claiming jurisdiction over West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has every right to conduct maritime exercises in the Western Philippine Sea, two senators said on Wednesday in response to Beijing’s call for Manila to stop doing so.

They said this in response to China’s claim to jurisdiction over the western Philippine Sea after the Philippine Coast Guard conducted maritime exercises in the region.

In a press briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also called on the Philippines to “respect China’s sovereignty, rights and interests, and cease actions that complicate the situation and exacerbate disputes “.

But Senator Risa Hontiveros said China is “again twisting the facts to respond to its baseless claims.”

“Let’s be clear: it was Beijing that disrespected the sovereignty of the Philippines, not the other way around,” she said. “In truth, it is China that harasses our fishermen, reclaims land in lands it does not own, and even uses warships to drive out Filipino civilians.”

“If China really wants respect, it should stop distorting and challenging the basic principles of international law. Just accept the harsh truth: The West Philippine Sea is ours, not you.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva has disputed claims that the PCG exercises have exacerbated tensions.

“The intention is to patrol our seas, which involves a few civilian ships, less than 10, and not an armed floating militia with hundreds of ships,” he said, referring to the disproportionate presence of Chinese ships. in Philippine waters in recent weeks.

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“It is a peaceful exercise of our rights. It is to verify our fishing grounds. It is not a forward-thinking part of a recovery expedition. Our ships go there in peace.”

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday ordered a diplomatic protest against China’s comments.

A government task force also reported the continued illegal presence of three Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, one in Kalayaan Municipality in Palawan and another in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

“If China sincerely wants to avoid escalation, it should withdraw its navy and maritime militia. China cannot even respect the freedom of navigation on the high seas, and now it wants respect for its unfounded nine-dash line? ” Hontiveros said.

“It seems that China is the one hallucinating. It must be the one living in an alternate reality.”

– Bella Perez-Rubio with reporting by Patricia Lourdes Viray

Thelma J. Longworth

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