According to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., there is a need to tighten coordination between the coast guards of the Philippines and China. This is after a Filipino TV network crew was barred by the Chinese from filming at Scarborough Shoal.
During his confirmation hearing by the Commission on Appointments on Wednesday, November 28, Locsin said, “There was a proposal for an even tighter coordination between China and Philippines, I rejected that but now it seems necessary for a tighter coordination between two coast guards because what they are patrolling, the Philippine and the Chinese coastguards, are not conflict areas but conflicted areas.”
The newly-confirmed foreign affairs chief said that in order to avoid provocations from either side in the West Philippine Sea, the coordination is necessary.
A video showing the crew of GMA-7’s “Reporters Notebook” being told off by Chinese Coast Guard personnel at the shoal, known locally as Panatag, was posted on November 22. Due to this, several senators have urged the government to protest China’s actions.
Panatag is one of the shoals being claimed both by China and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea — the portion of the South China Sea encompassing Manila’s 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Locsin reiterated that the Philippines is not giving up its sovereign rights over areas it owns in the South China Sea.
“It is not true that we will waive this right. We do not waive a single inch of what is given to us in the arbitral award in the international law,” he said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who pressed him for comment on the incident between the GMA documentary team and China Coast Guard personnel, welcomed Locsin’s answer. She said it was the most concrete reply she heard from an official of the Duterte administration.