Two diplomatic protests have been filed against China for violating international law and Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday, April 22.
The actions come after China pointed a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship near Rizal Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group and claimed some Philippine territories — namely, the one in the Paracels and one in the Spratlys — as part of the local government in Sansha City, located in the southern island of Hainan.
“We worked on this the whole day. And that is all that will be said on it because diplomatic notes are strictly confidential between the two states parties. Period,” said Locsin in a tweet.
“I expect that no one else in the government will comment on it because they are not competent to do it. Only the President himself can reveal these notes of his alter ego the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and rule thereon,” he added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, for his part, directed the Philippine Navy to give him a detailed briefing on the radar gun incident.
“As announced by Secretary Locsin, the Department of Foreign Affairs filed a diplomatic protest, which was received by the Chinese embassy today, 22 April,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that China has been relentless in exploiting the coronavirus pandemic through acts like ramming and sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat in South China Sea on April 3 and establishing two research stations in its artificial islands in Fiery Cross and Subi reefs.
The Philippines, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, are all locked in a territorial conflict with China over the South China Sea.
The 2016 decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague declared that China’s sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea have no legal basis.
However, China continues to disregard the landmark ruling, insisting that it has “indisputable” and “historical” claims over nearly the entire waters.