MANILA, May 13 (Mabuhay) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) fired off another diplomatic protest on Thursday, this time, against the presence of some 287 Chinese militia vessels in the waters of Kalayaan, Palawan.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the DFA to lodge the note verbale over Twitter, the latest in Manila’s relentless protests against Beijing’s incursion in Philippine waters.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF WPS) reported that at least 287 Chinese maritime militia vessels were spotted over various features of Kalayaan when the Area Task Force-West conducted a maritime patrol last May 9.

Bigger groupings of the militia vessels were sighted near China’s artificial islands while some were observed near islands occupied by the country.

The NTF WPS assured that the Philippine government will sustain its sovereignty patrols in the West Philippine Sea not only to enforce the law within the country’s jurisdiction but also to deter illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing.

Further, it encouraged Filipino fisherfolk to continue sailing and fishing in the West Philippine Sea as it vows to protect their welfare and safety in the area.

“The National Task Force remains guided by the national policy and interest in asserting our territorial and sovereignty rights as upheld by the 2016 arbitral ruling,” the NTF WPS said in a statement Wednesday.

“We reiterate that the Philippines shall continue to defend its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the West Philippines Sea, and shall not yield an inch of our territory,” it added. (MNS)

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