MANILA — President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr's government will lodge diplomatic protests against China if it would send ships to Philippine territorial waters, his incoming National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said Friday.
"We will continue to file diplomatic protests. Never mind that we are filing 10,000 of them because if you don’t, that means we acquiesce to the situation on the ground", Carlos said in a public briefing.
The retired political science professor said Philippines would also push for multilateral and bilateral talks with China and "other powers."
"It's not only China who is playing for the contested South and East China Sea. Let’s just continue to talk because the alternative is something unacceptable to all of us," she said.
Beijing claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam have competing claims to the waterway, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually.
China has ignored a 2016 decision by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that declared its historical claim to be without basis.
Marcos in late May said he would not "allow a single millimeter of our maritime coastal rights to be trampled upon".
"We have a very important ruling in our favor and we will use it to continue to assert our territorial rights. It is not a claim. It is already our territorial right," he told selected local media.
"We're talking about China. We talk to China consistently with a firm voice."
But he added: "We cannot go to war with them. That's the last thing we need right now."
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing's position on the international ruling had not changed.
"China is willing to continue communication and dialogue with the Philippines to appropriately handle differences, and together uphold the peace and stability of the South China Sea region," Wang said.
Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte fostered warmer ties with his more powerful neighbor by setting aside the ruling in exchange for promises of trade and investment, which critics say have not materialized.
The Philippine government has filed more than 200 diplomatic protests against China since Duterte took office in 2016.
The defense department in May urged the Marcos administration to stick to diplomacy in dealing with the sea dispute.
— With a report from Mikhail Flores, Agence France-Presse