MANILA - The Philippines has issued another note verbale to China condemning the latter’s move to drive out two Filipino vessels from Ayungin Shoal in the Spratlys.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has summoned again the Chinese Charge d’Affaires to express the country’s objection to China’s recent actions.
"Ayungin Shoal is part of the continental shelf of the Philippines and is therefore entitled to exercise sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in the area without the permission of other States. Furthermore, the civilian vessels contracted by the Philippine Navy were only conducting rotation of personnel and resupply operations," the DFA said.
It said China's actions "constitute a clear and urgent threat to the rights and interests of the Philippines under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)."
In a report from state news agency Xinhua, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying that the Spratlys and its adjacent waters, including Ayungin Shoal, is under its sovereignty.
Qin accused the Philippines of doing construction in the area when the Chinese Coast Guard saw the vessels “loaded with construction materials.”
The DFA urged China to "desist from any further interference with the efforts of the Philippines to undertake rotation and resupply operations at the Ayungin Shoal."
The DFA also protested less than two weeks ago the Chinese Coast Guard’s firing of water cannons at Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal on January 27.
China said the Coast Guard was only doing its job.
"The Chinese government vessels are on duty in waters off the Huangyan Island to uphold China's sovereignty and maintain order in the waters in accordance with law. The Chinese government vessels deal with activities by foreign vessels in these waters within a justifiable and reasonable scope," Chinese officials said.