MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang reiterated on Sunday, March 30, that it will exhaust diplomatic means to resolve the Philippine government’s territorial dispute with China.
In an interview over DZRB Radyo ng Bayan a day after two Chinese coast guard vessels tried to drive away a Philippine civilian ship approaching Ayungin, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the government will deal with the matter using diplomatic means.
“Hindi natitinag ang focus ng ating pamahalaan sa patuloy na paggamit ng diplomasya at matahimik na paraan sa pagresolba sa usapin sa West Philippine Sea,” he said. (Our government remains focused on the continued use of diplomacy and peaceful means to resolve the West Philippine Sea issue.)
Coloma said it is up to the Department of Foreign Affairs to file a diplomatic protest, if it deems necessary, over the incident on Saturday, March 29. The President and his Cabinet are still discussing the matter, he added. “Patuloy pong pinag-aaralan ng Pangulo at ng Gabinete ang sitwasyon para makabuo po tayo ng makatwirang katugunan,” he said. (The President and his Cabinet officials are studying the situation to come up with an appropriate esponse.)
Vice President Jejomar Binay also urged China to refrain from doing acts that will raise tension in the disputed Ayungin Shoal.
In a statement, Sunday, Binay said “Ayungin Shoal is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, and it is our responsibility and right to replenish supplies for our naval & marine contingent in the area.”
“We are confident that China will respect our rights and refrain from any action that will heighten tensions over our territorial disputes,” the statement added.
The Philippines maintained that Ayungin Shoal “is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf” and that the country “has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over it.”
Based on the reports reaching the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), two Chinese coast guard vessels tried to drive away a Philippine civilian ship approaching Ayungin. The Philippine contingent, which included journalists, aimed to resupply personnel in the Philippines’ stranded ship in Ayungin. (READ: China harasses PH ship before pleading day)