MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday urged Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to take a tougher stance against China and formally file a protest after Chinese coastguard members allegedly seized the catch of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal last month.
"I think there’s enough evidence. Nasa media po ang nangyayari dun. Kaya siguro konting lakas loob naman at aking hinihiling kay Secretary Cayetano na mag-file ng protest," Drilon said in a statement.
(It was reported in the media. So maybe just a little courage and I ask Secretary Cayetano to file a protest.)
"We must protect our right over that area especially given the favorable ruling that we had," said Drilon, in reference to the July 2016 ruling of an arbitral tribunal that invalidated China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.
Under the ruling, which favored a Philippine petition, the court ruled that Scarborough Shoal is a common fishing ground for fishermen from China, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, which all have claims to the waters.
The shoal is located within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone off Zambales.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the Philippines had asked China to discipline its coast guard personnel who were captured on video taking the catch from Filipino fishermen.
"We are demanding that the Chinese take steps to stop the coast guard from doing these acts," Roque told reporters.
"That is unacceptable. That is why we informed the Chinese we will not allow fish to be taken from our countrymen," Roque said.
Earlier, he said the Philippines has been taking "diplomatic actions" against China over its recent activities in the South China Sea, including the deployment of missiles and the landing of bomber planes.
Beijing said it would allow Filipinos to fish at the Scarborough Shoal "out of goodwill."
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said China's statement was "no big deal" and that both sides should just "let go" of the incident.