THE Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest against China over the latter country’s recent moves in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
During a press briefing on Thursday, May 31, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the protest covered all incidents previously mentioned by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. He did not provide further additional details.
According to various reports, insiders, however, said the note verbale included the installation of missiles in the Spratly Islands, and a Chinese navy chopper’s alleged harassment of a Philippine Navy rubber boat on May 11, when the Philippines was resupplying its troops in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).
Cayetano, in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, May 30, said that the Philippines has filed 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China over the past two years. Not all of those diplomatic protests, however, were considered notes verbale.
According to Cayetano, diplomatic protests can come in different forms, such as a list of issues raised in the bilateral consultative mechanism (BCM), and a message by Philippine President Duterte to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“People think that a protest has a specific form. When the president tells President Xi, ‘That is mine and don’t get the oil,’ that’s a protest. When we file a note verbale, that’s a protest. When we have a BCM and we list down everything, that’s a protest. If we list down 10 things, then we protest 10 things,” he said.
This month, China deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on the disputed Spratly Islands off the Philippine coast and flew nuclear-capable bombers to a base in another disputed part of the sea.
Eight senators from both the majority and minority blocs signed Senate Resolution 761 on Wednesday, urging the DFA to file a diplomatic protest against China for establishing a military presence in the West Philippine Sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte was earlier criticized by experts for refusing to publicize its diplomatic protests against China.
Failure to file a diplomatic protest is “acquiescing to China’s claim without China firing a single shot,” as stated by acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
Cayetano defended the Duterte administration’s approach toward China during Wednesday’s hearing.
“We’re changing the norms. But we’re not doing it the Aquino way, or the Del Rosario or Carpio or whatever-you-want-to-call-it way, that is through the media and is a shouting match),” Cayetano said.
“We’re doing it the Duterte way, which is traditional building of trust through diplomacy,” he added.