MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday said it would file the appropriate diplomatic action following the latest alleged display of Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ambassador Teresita Daza said the DFA was waiting for the official incident report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and other agencies on the April 23 incident, where a Chinese Coast Guard ship blocked PCG patrol vessels patrolling near the Ayungin Shoal and caused a near collision.
“In terms of DFA’s perspective, we await the official incident report coming from all relevant agencies, PCG is one of which. And the DFA actually studies and analyses and makes an assessment of it. And based on this incident report, the appropriate action will be taken,” Daza said.
“This has been ongoing quietly, some actually has been raised in the press. But in terms of diplomatic action being undertaken by the department, this is continuing,” she said in a briefing in Malacañang.
PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela in a statement said that the Chinese vessels “exhibited aggressive tactics towards BRP Malapascua and BRP Malabrigo, respectively.”
Tarriela said that the Chinse ship “carried out dangerous maneuvers near BRP Malapascua, maintaining a perilous distance of only 50 yards.”
“This close proximity posed a significant threat to the safety and security of the Philippine vessel and its crew. Meanwhile, the CCG vessel 4202 persistently followed BRP Malabrigo at a distance of 700 yards, closely monitoring its movements,” he said in a statement.
But China on Friday said that the near-collision between its coast guard ship and a Philippine patrol vessel carrying journalists was caused by the latter's "premeditated and provocative action."
Asked about the incident on Friday at a regular press briefing, the Chinese foreign ministry said the Philippine boats had "intruded" without China's permission.
"The Chinese coast guard vessel safeguarded China's territorial sovereignty and maritime order, in accordance with the law, while taking timely measures to avoid the dangerous approach of Philippine vessels and to avoid a collision," said spokeswoman Mao Ning.
The latest incident in the West Philippine Sea came just a few days before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to meet with US President Joe Biden in Washington DC where the Philippine leader is expected to underscore the government’s desire for the waters in region to be “a sea of peace, stability, and prosperity.”
Daza said the Philippines was looking at great powers, including the United States, “to calm the waters” following increasing tensions in the region.
“It will also be safe to assume that he (Marcos) we will also count on the US to actually support Philippine efforts in terms of enhancing maritime cooperation, upholding international law and freedom of navigation and overflight, and promoting sustainable development of marine resources,” Daza said.
“He also I think will underscore that from the perspective of the Philippines and the members of the region, we are looking at great powers including the United States to calm the waters because we want the waters to be a sea of peace. We are also very wary of possible miscalculation or further escalation of tensions in the region,” she continued.
The Philippine leader however is consistent in saying that the government “will continue to uphold the country’s sovereignty and safeguard our sovereign rights and interests in the South China Sea…through diplomacy, military law enforcement and public diplomacy action,” Daza said.
— with a report from Agence France-Presse