File photo by Indian Navy via Wikimedia Commons
Manila: The Philippines government has said it is 'vigilantly monitoring' the developments in the South China Sea and also probing the recent incident where a China Coast Guard ship allegedly harassed local fishermen near a Filipino-occupied shoal, media reports said.
The encounter at sea occurred on Jan. 9 when the crew of KEN-KEN fishing boat reported that a Chinese ship with bow number 5204 and a smaller boat drove them away from waters near Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), according to the Philippine Coast Guard, reports Radio Free Asia.
“Ayungin Shoal is part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. The Philippines is entitled to exercise sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the area, without any intervention from another country,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement as quoted by the news portal Tuesday.
“Filipino fishermen are free to exercise their rights and take whatever they are due under Philippine and international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award,” it said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Philippine foreign office said it was waiting for the local law enforcement agencies’ official reports on the alleged incident.
“The reports will serve as a basis for diplomatic action on the incident,” the department was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia.
“The department vigilantly monitors any developments in the West Philippine Sea, especially following the discussions between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the former’s state visit to China,” it said, using the Filipino name for areas within its EEZ in the South China Sea.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to RFA-affiliate BenarNews requests for comment.
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