MANILA — The new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Tuesday he would increase patrols in contested waters due an "alarming" China law that lets it coast guard fire at foreign vessels and tear down structures built by other countries.
Filipinos only seek to earn a livelihood when they sail out to Philippine waters which China claims, said AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.
"It's very alarming po iyon. I should say it's a very irresponsible statement," he said of the new China law.
"As part of our mandate to protect the people, i-increase po natin ang ating (we will increase our) visibility through the deployment of more naval assets," Sobejana said in a public briefing.
He quickly clarified that the deployment would be sent out "not to wage war against China, but to secure our people."
The Philippines has lodged a diplomatic protest over the China coast guard law.
Malacañang said China's laws must follow obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which only allows the use of force in "well-defined exceptions" like self-defense and authorization from the UN Security Council.
"Iyong paggamit ng dahas ay (The use of force is) generally prohibited," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque, a lawyer who taught international law in the University of the Philippines.