PHL claims stand on solid ground, while China’s do not – Lorenzana

“The utter disregard by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of international law especially the UNCLOS to which China is a party is appalling. Its nine-dash line claim is without any factual or legal basis. This, together with its so-called historical claim, was flatly and categorically rejected by the arbitral tribunal,” National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement April 4 in response to Chinese Embassy in Manila’s statement on April 3.

“The Philippines’ claims stand on solid ground, while China’s do not,” Secretary Lorenzana added. “China should respect Philippine sovereignty over the Kalayaan Islands, and its sovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone as defined by UNCLOS and affirmed by the arbitral award.”

The national defense chief noted that the continued presence of Chinese maritime militias in the area reveals their intent to further occupy features in the West Philippine Sea.

“They have done this before at Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc and at Panganiban Reef brazenly violating Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights under international law,” he added. “As a party to the DOC, China should refrain from conducting activities that disturb regional and international peace and security.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila said on April 3 that “the Niu’e Jiao (Julian Felipe Reef) is part of China’s Nansha (Spratly) Islands. The waters around Niu’e Jiao has been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fishermen for many years.” 

The Chinese embassy made the statement after Secretary Lorenzana said “the Chinese Ambassador has a lot of explaining to do. As of our latest maritime and aerial surveillance, there are still forty-four (44) Chinese vessels that are in Julian Felipe Reef. I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan.”

“The Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the waters for their livelihood every year. It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions. Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” the Chinese embassy noted.  “China is committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the waters and we hope that authorities concerned would make constructive efforts and avoid any unprofessional remarks which may further fan irrational emotions.”