DEPARTMENT of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana promised to uphold the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as he called on the Chinese government to stop its incursion and recall all its boats allegedly encroaching on Philippine territory.
“We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory. We are committed to uphold our sovereign rights over the WPS.” Lorenzana said.
The call was made following reports regarding the presence of Chinese militia boats in the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
The DND secretary said the presence of Chinese militia boats in Julian Felipe Reef or Union Reef is a clear provocative action of militarizing the area.
“This is a clear provocative action of militarizing the area. These are territories well within Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS) where Filipinos have the sole right to resources under international law and the 2016 arbitral ruling.” Lorenzana explained.
In line with this, Lorenzana said they are now coordinating with the Philippine Coast Guard, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea and the Department of Foreign Affairs for appropriate action in the context of protecting the welfare of Filipino fishermen, marine resources, and maintaining peace and stability in the disputed area.
For his part Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said as of yesterday, they monitored 183 vessels along the area.
Sobejana said, as part of the AFP’s mandate to protect and secure our territory, they oppose the act of incursion in our territorial waters.
“We really oppose any act of incursion sa ating territorial waters ano, including our exclusive economic zone, ” Sobejana said.
Sobejana said the NTF-WPS will assess the situation to come up with the best course of action regarding the matter.
” For now tuloy-tuloy yung ating maritime patrol para macheck natin kung may dagdag o nagbabawas yung number of vessels dyan sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.Publication Source : People's Tonight