(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Estrada said China’s maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea are a “matter of great concern,” calling them an attempt to trigger and force the Philippines to go against existing principles under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
In a statement on Tuesday, Estrada said he is one with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in condemning China’s supposed attempt to shadow and cut off a Philippine vessel conducting a regular rotation and resupply mission near Pag-asa Island en route to Rizal Reef on Friday, October 13.
“It highlights the ongoing challenges and complexities that our nation faces in this region,” said Estrada.
According to the senator, the circumstance highlights the ongoing challenges and complexities that Filipinos continue to face.
“Our Filipino sailors and naval personnel risk their lives to protect our sovereignty and maritime interests. They are the guardians of our seas and it is our duty to show them utmost gratitude and support. Ensuring their safety is paramount, and we must safeguard our nation’s rights by doing so,” said Estrada.
“Kaisa ako ng ating Sandatahang Lakas sa pagkondena sa aksyon ng China People’s Liberation Army navy ship dahil malinaw na inuudyukan nila tayong gumanti o gumawa ng hakbang na salungat sa umiiral na mga prinsipyo sa ilalim ng UNCLOS. Ang mga ganitong klase ng pagmamaniobra ng China ay hindi dapat palampasin ng ating mga kinauukulan,” he added.
(I support our Armed Forces in condemning the action of the China People’s Liberation Army navy ship because it is clearly inciting us to retaliate or take action against the existing principles under UNCLOS. These kinds of maneuvers by China should not be overlooked by authorities.)
Despite the Philippines’ condemnation, China insisted on ownership of the Pag-asa Island, which it called Zhongye Dao.
Pag-asa, however, is an island in the Kalayaan chain at least 285 nautical miles from Palawan.
The Philippines has long established military and civilian presence in the area.