Senators urge recall of PH envoy to China

(ABS-CBN) MANILA (UPDATE) — At least 2 senators want Malacañang to recall the Philippine ambassador to China in protest of the latest incident of harassment by Chinese ships in Philippine waters. 

Speaking to ANC’s Dateline Philippines, Sen. Francis Tolentino said recalling the envoy would be higher than the usual route of filing diplomatic protests against Chinese aggression. 

“It will elevate the seriousness of what we have been contesting for the last several months given that China is not acceding or hearing our hundreds of diplomatic protests,” he said. 

Tolentino, who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Maritime and Admiralty Zones, said recalling the envoy did not mean closing the Philippine embassy, as consulate services would continue. 

He added that a recall would symbolically “amplify the correctness of our concern” and signal the seriousness of the Philippine side.

In a statement, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada also suggested the same move following the “recurring acts of aggression against our countrymen in the West Philippine Sea.”

“I urge Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. Enrique Manalo to direct our ambassador to China to return to the country for consultation on the course of action in seeking redress for the persistent challenges we face in the WPS,” Estrada said.

Estrada added that the “repeated harassment and bullying” of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea “demand our immediate attention and resolute response.”

Chinese vessels attempted to block a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal last week, just weeks after similarly dangerous maneuvers caused collisions with Philippine vessels, including the coast guard’s BRP Cabra. 

Tensions have escalated under Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. whose administration has been increasingly vocal in criticizing Chinese actions in the sea.

Resupply and rotation missions to the BRP Sierra Madre have become a frequent trigger of diplomatic spats between the countries.

Manila accuses Chinese vessels of harassing and blocking Philippine boats delivering food, water and materials for badly needed repairs.

Beijing, which has urged Manila to remove the ship, insists the Philippine vessels are infringing China’s territorial sovereignty. With Agence France-Presse