Filipinos can disregard Chinese coast guard law – Locsin
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Sunday that Filipinos can disregard China’s controversial coast guard law and go about the country’s waters because such a law does not apply inside Philippine territory.
“I refuse to have it studied as if it applied to our territorial waters. It doesn’t,” Locsin said in a post on Twitter amid renewed suggestions from critics of the Duterte administration’s “pivot to China” foreign policy.
“So we in boats go about our waters like the law does not exist. We run up against its enforcement we fight back … or submit. CHN like PH can write any law but valid only within their borders,” he added.
Locsin, in another Twitter post, also stressed that the notion of pressuring another country to change its domestic law is dangerous, saying weak nations will suffer the most.
“What if we’re pressured to change our laws defining our territory or forbidding foreign bases to allow foreign occupation? Don’t start something that may finish us,” he said.
The country’s top diplomat made the remarks as a growing number of lawmakers pressed the administration to step up measures to secure the country’s maritime borders.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chair of the House strategic intelligence committee, renewed congressional support for security measures that the military proposed years ago.
More forward bases
“We want the Philippine Navy positioned to prevent China from asserting administrative control over any reefs, rocks or lagoons within our 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone,” he said in a statement.
Pimentel revived interest in the old proposal to put up more forward operating bases in areas near the West Philippine Sea, including Subic Bay in Luzon and Palawan province.
The military, he said, should avoid a repeat of the 2012 incident where China was able to occupy Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal.
The military had long eyed Subic Bay as a naval facility even before the departure of the US Navy in 1992.
The Navy has also made several proposals on building naval bases in unspecified areas in Palawan, including one that could accommodate visiting foreign forces.
Step up naval patrols
“We expect the Navy’s two lead warships to be posted in the forward bases and to routinely operate in the West Philippine Sea,” he said, echoing the order of President Duterte to step up the naval patrol rotation that includes the multi-role guided missile frigates BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna.
He also urged the Philippine Coast Guard to step up its ongoing patrols of fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea, including its lead ship, the BRP Gabriela Silang.
Pimentel earlier urged the Philippine Navy to proceed with its plan to acquire its first three submarines to protect the country’s maritime domain following China’s continued presence in the West Philippine Sea.
Tensions in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China again flared up in March after more than 200 Chinese vessels, believed to be manned by maritime militia, were spotted at Julian Felipe Reef off Bataraza town in Palawan.
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