DND airs concern over Chinese vessels ‘swarming’ in WPS
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday expressed concern over the reported “swarming” of Chinese vessels at the Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“The Department of National Defense views with great concern the reported swarming of Chinese vessels in Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea,” said DND officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr.
Faustino said the government continues routing maritime and aerial patrols in the WPS, and the information gathered in these patrols is submitted to authorities.
He also stressed that while the government’s line remains open to dialogue, such violations are “unacceptable.”
“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.
“The President’s directive to the Department is clear — we will not give up a single square inch of Philippine territory,” Faustino said.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier said he would use the 2016 Hague ruling to assert the country’s territorial rights.
In 2016, the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea, but Beijing has not recognized the ruling.
The tribunal ruled that China’s claim had no basis in international law and violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea, the waters within the country’s 370-km Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea.
This after the Philippines, under the administration of the late President Benigno Aquino III in 2013, challenged in The Hague China’s claim over more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, which included waters in the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
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