MANILA, Aug 26 (Mabuhay) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has rejected the reported proposal to place an attaché for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Beijing, saying it would equate to Manila conceding its rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Locsin said establishing a separate office for the PCG at the Philippine Embassy in China would subject activities in the West Philippine Sea to discussion with Chinese authorities instead of an automatic protest.
The existing Philippine defense attaché there would suffice to handle defense issues, he said.
“Philippine Coast Guard wants own attaché in Beijing Embassy. Flat no. We have a Defense attaché for national defense issues. A separate Coast Guard attaché means we concede exclusive sovereignty over our coastal waters so they are now subject to discussion instead of automatic protest,” Locsin said in a tweet Tuesday.
In a separate statement on Wednesday, he said territory and territorial prerogatives are not subject to discussions but only of diplomatic protests.
“I don’t want anyone discussing with his foreign counterpart what naval maneuvers are or are not acceptable,” Locsin wrote.
On January 14, a Chinese Coast Guard contingent docked in Manila for the “first-ever” formal meeting and maritime exercise between Manila and Beijing.
During high-level talks with the PCG, the two maritime security agencies agreed to boost cooperation, as well as the possibility of conducting joint exercises on maritime security.
The Chinese Coast Guard had been a main figure in some of the DFA’s diplomatic protests in the past with the latest lodged last week after it “illegally confiscated” the fishing gears of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal.
Last year, Locsin also ordered filing a note verbale against China after the Chinese Coast Guard was spotted patrolling near the Ayungin Shoal, a tear-drop shaped atoll located in the Philippines’ Kalayaan Island Group. (MNS)