MALACAÑANG shared the opinion of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that filing a diplomatic protest with China over its coast guard’s action of prohibiting Philippine media from filming in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal will be an exercise in futility.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. told Unang Balita earlier in the day that filing a diplomatic protest over the recent incident involving the crew of television show Reporter’s Notebook and the China Coast Guard “is like throwing paper against a brick wall.”
Such move, he said, would only give the impression to the international community that China is “immovable” and the Philippines is “weak.”
“In the sense na walang mangyayari, tama siya dun,”presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“But in the sense na para lang ipakita sa kanila na huwag niyo gawin naman sa amin ‘yan. Sabi nga ni Presidente, akala ko ba magkakaibigan tayo di ba? Kung magkakaibigan tayo medyo mag galangan naman tayo.”
Panelo reiterated his advice for GMA Network to file a complaint before the government so that the Department of Foreign Affairs can write a letter to China to ask whether or not barring media from entering the shoal is part of its policy.
The Palace official believes that media should not be prohibited from taking photos and videos in Panatag Shoal given that it is within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
However, he also maintained that the international arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea cannot be enforced at the moment.
The 2016 ruling of The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration said that Beijing violated the rights of Filipinos, who were blocked by the Chinese Coast Guard from fishing in the Panatag Shoal off Zambales for years even if the shoal is considered a common fishing ground for Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino fishermen.
Panelo also scored the United States and previous Philippine governments for not taking action on Beijing’s reclamation activities and militarization of its artificial islands.