MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday (Sept 30) ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file diplomatic protests against China’s continued presence and other activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Locsin made the orders public in a series of tweets, a day after the National Security Council (NSC) told the House of Representatives during the plenary deliberations on the 2022 budget that there were over a hundred Chinese vessels loitering in the West Philippine Sea.
Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, who defended the agency’s budget, said the ships appeared to be Chinese militia, with lengths ranging from 30 to 60 meters.
The lawmaker said the Chinese vessels were moving from one spot to another and appeared to be fishing.
Chinese militia vessels pose as civilian vessels as part of Beijing’s gray zone operations.
Locsin, who is currently in the United States, asked the DFA in messages through Twitter to protest the “continued presence” of Chinese fishing vessels in Iroquois Reef, an occupied Philippine feature in the West Philippine Sea.
He also directed the DFA to protest “China’s incessant and unlawful restriction of Filipino fishermen from conducting legitimate fishing activities” in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).
He also ordered the DFA to lodge a protest over Chinese radio challenges that were “unlawfully issued against Philippine maritime patrols.”
The Western Command (Wescom) in Palawan said last month that Philippine aircraft received Chinese radio warnings at least 218 times while Wescom vessels were patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
China also fired flares at Philippine military aircraft conducting security patrols at least five times in the West Philippine Sea in June.
Tensions between Manila and Beijing have escalated early this year over the presence of hundreds of Chinese militia vessels in Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
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