PHILIPPINE Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday, August 26, maintained that the Philippines will continue patrolling the Spratly Islands despite China’s call to stop ”illegal provocations” in the contested waters.
“We’re gonna continue our patrol because it’s ours. That’s all there is to it,” Locsin said in an interview on ANC.
“They (China) will continue to call it an illegal provocation including my protest about their illegal incursions but that’s their right. It’s a free world. We can’t stop another country from talking,” he added.
Last week, Manila lodged a diplomatic protest over the Chinese Coast Guard’s illegal confiscation of Filipino fishermen’s fish aggregating devices in Scarborough Shoal as well as China’s continuing illicit issuances of radio challenges against Philippine aircraft conducting regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, in response, said that the Philippines is infringing on its security and sovereignty by sending military aircraft over the islands.
It also branded Manila’s maritime patrols in the Kalayaan Island Group as “illegal provocations.”
“Our statement itself was a reaction to what China was doing. That was our reaction and that is their reaction. Let me please emphasize this, it’s a free world. Everyone is free to say what they want,” Locsin said.
“I have formally protested certain actions from China in what is indisputably our territorial waters. So fine, let them say that. They can call it illegal provocations, you can’t change their mind. They already lost the arbitral award, they wouldn’t accept it,” he added.
Locsin also said he has to take into consideration the facts before filing another protest for China’s latest remarks.
“That is a very fine line that I’m going to have to consider because as I’ve said to all of my people, when you lack the military power to do something about incursions to your territory, all you have is precision in the law, precision about the facts. Let’s get it always correct then file our protest,”he said.