China

Faustino: Chinese vessels swarming West PH Sea ‘unacceptable’

Sofia Tomacruz
Faustino: Chinese vessels swarming West PH Sea ‘unacceptable’

PHILIPPINE DEFENSE. Defense Secretary Jose Faustino Jr. attends the hearing on the 2023 budget of the Department of National Defense and its attached agencies and corporations at the Senate on September 27, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Department of National Defense officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. reminds China that the Philippines 'reserves the right to deal with any situation that violates or threatens our territorial integrity and sovereignty'

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. called out China over its continued presence around features in the West Philippine Sea, after several vessels were found lingering near Iriqouis Reef and Sabina Shoal.

In a statement shared with media on Wednesday, December 14, Faustino said Beijing’s swarming of such maritime features was illegal and “unacceptable,” and that the defense establishment viewed China’s actions with “great concern.”

“The President’s directive to the Department is clear — we will not give up a single square inch of Philippine territory,” Faustino said, reiterating the Marcos’ government’s position on the territorial dispute.

Faustino said the DND was conducting routine patrols in the area and that information gathered from these would be given to respective agencies which would decide on a course of action.

The Chinese embassy in Manila has yet to respond to requests for comment.

Under Faustino, the DND had identified as a top priority in its 10-point agenda the guarding of Philippine sovereignty and national territory, including in the West Philippines.

China continues to claim a vast majority of the South China Sea, with its vessels encroaching the waters of neighboring countries – despite an international ruling won by the Philippines, which struck down Bejing’s claims as illegal.

After former president Rodrigo Duterte had downplayed and adopted a defeatist stand on the dispute, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed he would not preside over any process “that will abandon even one square inch of territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power.” 

The Philippines, Faustino said, was committed to upholding the rule of law in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, “and reserves the right to deal with any situation that violates or threatens our territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

“Our lines remain open to dialogue. However, we maintain that activities which violate our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, and undermine the peace and stability of the region, are unacceptable,” he said. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.