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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday, December 10, said his government “remains undeterred” in the face of China’s continued intimidation and harassment of Philippine vessels.
In a strongly worded statement, Marcos reiterated that the Philippines is prepared to protect its claims in the West Philippine Sea.
“The aggression and provocations perpetrated by the Chinese Coast Guard and their Chinese Maritime Militia against our vessels and personnel over the weekend have only further steeled our determination to defend and protect our nation’s sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in a statement.
Marcos, citing international law, called China’s moves illegal and dangerous.
He directed uniformed services to conduct missions with the utmost regard for safety due to the aggressions, yet still proceed with “a mission-oriented mindset.”
“To our gallant service members, be assured of our utmost gratitude and fullest support. We remain undeterred.”
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela on Sunday morning said that China once again fired water cannons and rammed the country’s vessels while on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal off Palawan. One of the ships, he said, suffered “serious engine damage.”
Just a day before on Saturday, December 9, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that CCG used water cannons against the civilian vessels of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources near Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal). The vessels were on a humanitarian and support mission to give oil subsidy and grocery packs to over 30 Filipino fishing vessels.
Marcos reiterated that the Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and “any foreign claim of sovereignty over it is baseless and absolutely contrary to international law.” Bajo de Masinloc “is sovereign Philippine territory and an integral part of our archipelago.”
“No one but the Philippines has a legitimate right or legal basis to operate anywhere in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“The illegal presence in our waters and dangerous actions against our citizens is an outright and blatant violation of international law and the rules-based international order,” Marcos added.
Marcos said that he is in touch with state authorities and “have directed our uniformed services to conduct their missions with the utmost regard for the safety of our personnel, yet proceed with a mission-oriented mindset.” He assured them his “utmost gratitude and fullest support.” – Rappler.com