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Top Philippine envoy tells China to get out of sea, files 2 protests

THE PHILIPPINES’ top envoy minced no words in telling the Chinese to get out of its waters in the South China Sea, cussing at its neighbor for failing to reciprocate its goodwill.

“China, my friend, how politely can I put it?” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro M. Locsin, Jr. tweeted on Monday. “What are you doing to our friendship?”

“We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attention on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province,” he added.

He made the remarks as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed two more diplomatic protests against China for its “belligerent actions.” It cited the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence” of Chinese fishing and militia vessels in the area.

“China has no law enforcement rights in these areas,” the agency said. The presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels near Thitu Island and Scarborough Shoal “raises serious concerns.”

“The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty,” it added.

Five Chinese Coast Guard vessels remained in the country’s territorial waters as of April 22, a Philippine task force said earlier.

The Foreign Affairs department rejected the Chinese Embassy’s earlier statement that China has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal.

“It is without basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and is not recognized by the international community,” it said.

The Philippines said the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal are parts of Philippine territory and its sea patrols and training exercises there were legitimate. “China has no law enforcement rights in these areas.”

The task force last week said at least five Chinese Coast Guard vessels were seen in the South China Sea — three in Scarborough Shoal, one in the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan province and another in Second Thomas Shoal.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said China should order its coast guard to leave the area.

“The Philippine Coast Guard has the absolute right to conduct maritime patrols and training exercises in the entire West Philippine Sea,” she said in a statement, referring to parts of the China Sea within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

She said the government should not stop filing diplomatic protests and should send more ships to show China “how worthless, illegitimate and unlawful her claims are.”

“This is not the time to kowtow to the autocratic and hypocritical regime in Beijing,” the opposition senator said. “If we don’t assert our rights under international law, we lose them.”

The Philippines has fired off several diplomatic protests against China after authorities spotted a swarm of Chinese vessels, including six war ships within its waters in the South China Sea.

The Philippine task force said more than 200 Chinese ships had been scattered in waters within its exclusive economic zone. About 15 vessels either manned by Chinese militia, the People’s Liberation Army Navy or Chinese Coast Guard had also been spotted at Scarborough Shoal.

Meanwhile, about 240 Chinese vessels that China claims are ordinary fishing vessels have spread out to a wider area in the South China Sea, the agency said. The ships allegedly manned by Chinese maritime forces were scattered across the Spratlys, about 175 nautical miles west of Palawan province, it added. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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