PHL firm on protecting West Philippine Sea territory – officials

MANILA — The Philippines vowed to protect at all cost its territory, especially the West Philippine Sea and its 200-mile exclusive economic one,  after China’s military again blocked another Philippine Navy ship patrolling near the Scarborough shoal.

The vow was made by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and explained by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano. (See related stories)

Ano, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, said the Philippine Navy ship was conducting routine patrol operations near Scarborough Shoal  but added the PN ship “did not illegally enter any space under Chinese sovereignty” because the shoal is part of the Philippine territory.

“Following the strong guidance of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., we will protect our territory and sovereign rights at all cost,” Ano said.

China’s military admitted it warned and blocked a Philippine vessel that entered the waters near Huangyan Island, which is how it calls Scarborough Shoal, without permission.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines urged Beijing to act responsibly and stop its “aggressive” and “illegal” actions in the South China Sea

Ano said the Philippines’ military and coast guard “will not be deterred by the aggressive and illegal activities” of Chinese vessels within its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

“China is again over hyping this incident and creating unnecessary tensions between our two nations,” he said.
The Philippines would continue with its operations to uphold sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) in a “balanced” manner in anticipation of increasing harassment from China,  Secretary  Teodoro Jr. said.

Teodoro added that any activity in the WPS, including the next resupply missions, would be crafted carefully to avoid increasing tensions or conflict and stressed that these would be done to uphold the best interest of the country.

Teodoro said these efforts will not be done “recklessly” to prevent any conflict.

He also added that DND’s stance on the WPS remains the same, which is to stand by the country’s sovereignty as ordered by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

“Hindi po nagbabago ang kanyang guidance, we will be resolute, tayo po ay maninindigan sa ating soberenya (the President’s guidance did not change, we will be resolute, we will stand-by our sovereignty),” Teodoro said.

By asserting Manila’s sovereign rights and territorial jurisdictions in the WPS, the DND chief added that the government was not doing anything that would violate its Constitution.

In fact, the Constitution calls for the protection of all Philippine territory, he added.

“Wala po tayong opsyon kung hindi pangalagaan ito ang future generations po at ang ating seguridad, integridad bilang isang archipelagic state ang nakasalalay po dito (We have no option but to protect this for the future generations and our security. Our integrity as a archipelagic state depends on this),” the DND chief stressed.

Tensions in the disputed sea escalated this month after Philippine and Chinese vessels collided in two separate occasions when the Philippine ships were on a mission to deliver supplies to a military outpost in Second Thomas Shoal.