MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs is protesting the "shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges" by the Chinese Coast Guard to Philippine Coast Guard vessels conducting legitimate patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.
In a statement released Monday, the agency also opposed the "incessant, illegal, prolonged and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones."
"China has no law enforcement rights in these areas. The presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the Philippines' territorial waters of Pag-asa Islands and Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone, raises serious concern," the DFA said.
"The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty."
The agency said the PCG conducted operations in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc, a shoal off Zambales, on April 24 and 25, 2021.
From Jan. 1 to March 18 this year, the country's maritime law enforcement agencies also monitored the "continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea."
These vessels were spotted around the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll and Bajo de Masinloc.
"The Philippines' conduct of maritime patrols and training exercises in these areas is a legitimate and routine act of a sovereign country in its territory and territorial waters and is part of the Philippines' administrative responsibility," the DFA said.
The agency also dismissed the recent remark of the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that China allegedly enjoyed sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc.
It is not recognized by international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the international community, the agency added.
"The Philippines calls on China to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG (Kalayaan Island Group) and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty," the DFA said.
The West Philippine Sea is the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims in entirety by demarcating it through its so-called 9-dash line.
Manila's top diplomat and defense chief have demanded China to pull out its ships monitored to be in Philippine waters since early March.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, the Philippines has lodged 78 diplomatic protests against China over its illegal and lingering presence in West Philippine Sea.
Beijing claims the South China Sea in entirety despite having no legal basis, as adjudged by the UN-backed arbitration court in 2016.