US, PHL WARN CHINA AFTER WPS COLLISION; Biden renews defense commitment as Manila says not looking for war
“Any attack on Filipino aircraft, vessels or armed forces will invoke our mutual defense treaty with the Philippines,” Biden told reporters.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. also warned China it has no right over the Philippine territory which extends to the 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
“This is a serious escalation of the illegal activities conducted by the Chinese government in the WPS in complete disregard of any norm or convention of international law,” stressed Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. during a Malacanang briefing.
The collision occurred as supply boats escorted by two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels were heading to Ayungin Shoal to deliver food and other supplies to the small navy detachment stationed on the grounded Philippine warship BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal.
On Oct. 22, Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels tried to prevent anew the Philippine routine resupply to BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57) in Ayungin Shoal, deliberately bumping supply boat Unaiza May 2 and its escort, BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409).
Ayungin Shoal is part of our exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and we have sovereign rights and jurisdiction over it,” Daza said in a press conference, echoing the July 12, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea. “Therefore, as we did in the past, we intend to clearly convey our position that we have every right, under UNCLOS, to carry out legitimate activities in our maritime zones, and that we do not accept any form of interference.”
Teodoro also said that China is using misinformation to weaken the “political will and unity” of the country.
He urged all Filipinos to unite with the government in countering Beijing’s narrative.
“At least based on our initial determination na mukhang intentional yung incident… So, we will definitely recommend to the DFA to call on China to respect or to rather comply with its obligations under the international law to settle disputes peacefully and to cease and desist from committing any such further acts,” Guevarra said after attending a Senate hearing.
The Philippines’ National Security Council also condemned the collision .
The Department of National Defense (DND) thanked the governments of France, South Korea, and Japan for expressing their support to the country following China’s latest provocations when its vessels hit Filipino ships engaged in a routine rotation and resupply (RORE) mission in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“We wish to acknowledge the statements issued by the Governments of France, South Korea, and Japan supporting the Philippines in the latest incident wherein Chinese vessels, operating illegally, aggressively, and provocatively, hit Philippine ships in the WPS,” the DND said in a statement.
“He instructed the Philippine Coast Guard to conduct an investigation, as mandated by international maritime laws, into the events that transpired during the RORE mission to Ayungin Shoal by vessels of the China Coast Guard,” the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said in a statement.
“The incident, brought about by dangerous, illegal, and reckless maneuvers by vessels of the China Coast Guard, caused damage to a Philippine vessel within our exclusive economic zone and is being taken seriously at the highest level of government,” the PCO added.
“Hindi ko ma establish (na) isolated na insidente. mabuti pang ang sa Wescom (Western Command) (itanong) but on my end naman ang instructions ni President ke anong mangyari dyan tuloy-tuloy ang ating operations sa WPS (I could not establish on whether the incident is an isolated one, you better ask Wescom about that but on my end, the President’s instruction is very clear, whatever happens, operations in the WPS will continue),” he said during the “Kapihan sa Manila Bay” forum, when asked whether the dangerous maneuver of a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ship against BRP Benguet (LS-507) last Oct. 13 is an escalation on the part of China.
Teodoro also dismissed China’s claim that the Philippines is illegally occupying Pag-asa Island.
“Ayoko naman matawa dahil bastos naman pero itanong mo sa kanila kung ano yung gustong sabihin, sasabihin nila siguro indisputable sovereignty ng South China Sea. Ilan ang naniniwala dun? (I don’t want to laugh as it will be rude, but you can ask them on what they want really what to say, they will probably state they have indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea, how many will believe that claim?)” the DND chief said.
Referring to China’s continued encroachments, Teodoro said those who intrude on the country’s 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone are the ones who can be considered squatters and illegal occupants.
“Sila ang squatter dito, illegal occupants dito, pwede naman silang mag apply ng visa, bibigyan sila ng BID (Bureau of Immigration, formerly the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation) (they are the squatters here