MANILA, Sept 30 (Mabuhay) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday has protested China’s “incessant and unlawful” restriction imposed on Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal or the Bajo de Masinloc.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. instructed the DFA to file the government’s diplomatic protest, noting that China has illegally restricted Filipino fishermen from conducting legitimate fishing activities in the area.
Scarborough Shoal, located 124 nautical miles off the coast of Masinloc, Zambales, is a traditional fishing ground for Filipinos and other nationals.
In a series of tweets, Locsin also ordered the filing of two protests on Chinese radio challenges “unlawfully issued against Philippine maritime patrols” and the continued presence of Chinese fishing vessels in the vicinity of Iroquois Reef.
The top diplomat, however, did not disclose further details about the latest Chinese incursions.
The fresh diplomatic protests follow a flurry of notes verbales lodged by the DFA early this year over Beijing’s continued and increased presence within Philippine waters.
On Wednesday, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, sponsor of the National Security Council’s (NSC) 2022 budget, confirmed that some 150 Chinese fishing vessels were sighted in the West Philippine Sea.
Citing information from the NSC, Biazon said the vessels were “doing fishing operations, moving from one spot to another” in the area.
China, the Philippines, and several other littoral states have overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea.
In a 2016 arbitral ruling, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing’s nine-dash line, a demarcation that covers almost 80 percent of the South China Sea, is illegal. (MNS)