Chinese vessels’ presence in Pag-asa, KIG illegal: DFA

The presence of Chinese vessels near and around Pag-asa and other maritime features in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) is illegal, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

It noted that Pag-asa Island is part of the KIG which is an integral part of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

“Such actions are a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, as defined under international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” it added.

It noted that it has been observed that Chinese vessels have been present in large numbers and for sustained and recurring periods—what is commonly referred to as “swarming” tactics—raising questions about their intent as well as concerns over their role in support of coercive objectives.

“Such actions when not repudiated by the Chinese government are deemed to have been adopted by it,” it added.

The DFA said Chinese vessels for any purpose in KIG continue to be the subject of appropriate action by the Philippines.

“For the record, the Philippines has consistently manifested its position on the Pag-asa Islands and on the KIG, and its objections or concerns over illegal, tension-raising or coercive activities, through diplomatic actions, including notes verbales and in meetings with the Chinese side, including the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM),” DFA said.