FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. yesterday ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest against China following the reported presence of Chinese vessels near Ayungin Shoal.
“I’m in Moscow. Do I have to fly home to file the goddamned diplomatic protest myself? File now!” Locsin tweeted.
Locsin’s reaction came after the Philippine military reported that some Chinese vessels sailed near Second Thomas Shoal or the Ayungin Shoal. The area is being manned by Filipino soldiers aboard the BRP Sierra Madre.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Noel Clement was quoted as saying that “the mere presence there, if there is no request for passage prior to that, will have to be reported.”
However, Clement added whether it is a violation or not “will be up to our Department of Foreign Affairs.”
Locsin replied to the story on the Defense officials’ confirmation that a Chinese Coast Guard vessel was spotted 4 to 5 nautical miles away from Ayungin Shoal, known internationally as Second Thomas Shoal.
Clement on Monday said that if the Chinese Coast Guard failed to apply for passage in the disputed waters, the military has to report it as violations.
In September, Defense officials also said a Chinese Coast Guard ship had blocked three Philippine civilian vessels in Ayungin Shoal.
The Defense Department has monitored China to be regularly deploying at least one Coast Guard ship to Ayungin Shoal. They are perceived to be monitoring Philippine activities in the area.
With CNN Philippines