MALACANANG expressed confidence on Friday that the Philippines’ latest filing of diplomatic protest against China would not affect the ties between the two countries.
This, after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday, lodged a diplomatic protest against China over the illegal confiscation of some Filipino fishermen’s equipment at the Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) in May.
“Hindi po makaka-apekto iyan doon sa kabuaan ng ating matalik na pagsasamahan sa panig ng bansa natin at ng bansang Tsina [The filing of the diplomatic protest] would not affect the very good relations between our country and China),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview with state-run PTV-4.
On Thursday, the DFA confirmed that it filed a note verbale to China to raise concern over CCG’s seizure of Filipino fishermen’s fish aggregating devices called payaos.
The DFA also reprimanded China’s “continuing illicit issuance of radio challenges on Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea.”
Roque said it was only normal to file a diplomatic protest against any acts the country deemed to be an affront to the country’s sovereign rights.
“Iyang mga protesta naman, ginagawa talaga iyan ng ating mga diplomat kung meron sa tingin natin may lalabag sa ating soberenya o doon sa ating tinatawag na sovereign rights (It is natural for our diplomats to file a diplomatic protest if they think the act violates our sovereignty or sovereign rights),” he said.
Scarborough Shoal, also known as the Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, is a triangle-shaped coral reef located 124 nautical miles off Zambales. It is also an integral part of the Philippine territory under the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales province.
China has maintained a steady presence in Scarborough Shoal since the Philippines’ largest naval vessel was engaged in a standoff with two Chinese maritime surveillance ships in April 2012. On July 12, 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that both Filipino and Chinese nationals have “traditional fishing rights” at Scarborough Shoal.
Since 2018, the Philippines has been pushing for a permanent fishing deal in Scarborough Shoal. However, the pact has yet to be signed by claimant states.
President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to resolve the maritime row through diplomatic negotiations in an effort to maintain the Philippines’ friendlier ties with China under his leadership. PNA