MANILA - The country's conflict in the West Philippine Sea is with China only and not with other claimants, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday.
Locsin, in a series of tweets, dismissed suggestions that the Philippines is in conflict with other claimants who had taken features before the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) was adopted.
The top diplomat was agreeing with the position of former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, a long-time advocate of the country's sovereignty in the disputed waters.
“To make it even clearer: when Viet fishermen "poach" in our EEZ though close to features they claim, we arrest them—and let them go in the spirit of amity because VIETNAM IS NOT TRYING TO TAKE WHAT'S OURS. So Carpio 1000% correct: our only conflict in SCS/WPS is with China,” Locsin said.
“SO ANY SUGGESTION THAT WE ARE AS MUCH IN CONFLICT WITH other claimants of features they had taken well before UNCLOS was adopted to confer EEZs IS PURE BULLSHET AND PATHETIC TRYING TO EXCUSE SOFT-PEDALING APPROACH TO YIELDING WHAT'S OURS. NO WAY HOSAY!!”
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have competing claims in the South China Sea.
The Philippines calls the part of the South China Sea it claims as the West Philippine Sea.
In 2016, an International arbitration court ruled that China's sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea has no legal basis. Beijing is disregarding the landmark decision.
At a House budget hearing on Monday, Locsin said there was no need to file diplomatic protests against other claimants in the South China Sea that have no active conflict with the Philippines.
Manila has filed several diplomatic protests against Beijing this year for declaring portions of Philippine territory as part of a Chinese province and the naming of some features in the Kalayaan Island Group.
It also protested the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters.