MANILA -- Senators on Tuesday condemned the latest act of "harassment" by the Chinese Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea following the Feb. 6 incident that prompted a diplomatic protest from Manila.
"We protest vigorously against the continued provocations of the Chinese Navy in the West Philippine Sea. This is not the first time our troops have been harassed by Chinese forces on our waters... We completely condemn not only this latest incident with the military-grade laser, but the repeated incidents of harassment on our waters. We will not tolerate this," Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement.
The Senate leader ordered the Chinese embassy in Manila and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to "cease all their aggressive intimidation tactics."
On Feb. 6, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel carried out "shadowing, harassment, dangerous maneuvers, directing of military-grade laser, and illegal radio challenges" to the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Malapascua.
On Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed a diplomatic protest over what they described as China's "threat to Philippine sovereignty and security as a state, and are infringements of its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone."
"It's pure harassment... I will not elevate it to an act of hostility, but it's pure harassment, done by bullies in the West Philippine Sea," Zubiri added.
But for Sen. Francis Tolentino, what China did was an "act of hostility."
"It is intrusive, it is hostile, in terms of it being 'armed,' it's not yet there because it’s not lethal. An armed attack should be able to produce death, incapacitation. Yung temporary blindness perhaps... It is an act of hostility. It cannot yet be considered a belligerent act, it’s an act of hostility," he said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Risa Hontiveros also condemned China's latest act.
"Their act, which reportedly caused temporary blindness to the crew members, is loathsome as it put them in harm's way and jeopardized their safety. This provocative action should be stopped," Estrada said.
"Maliwanag pa sa sikat ng araw na ang Ayungin Shoal ay teritoryo ng Pilipinas. Hindi yan sa Tsina. Huwag nila tawagin ng Tsinong pangalan... Stop with the false narratives, end the lies, and get out of the West Philippine Sea," Hontiveros said.
The Chinese government earlier blamed the Philippines for the incident, with Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin claiming that the PCG vessel entered Ayungin Shoal—which it calls "Ren’ai Reef"—"without permission."
Senate, senators, WPS, West Philippine Sea, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Tolentino, Jinggoy Estrada, South China Sea, ANC, ANC promo