By Priam Nepomuceno

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Friday said China’s threat to arrest and detain foreigners entering what it claims are its territorial waters is a form of provocation.

“They threatened to arrest. That is a provocation and a violation, to me, of the UN (United Nations) Charter,” Teodoro said in an interview on the sidelines of the Philippine Navy (PN)’s 126th founding anniversary.

He said Beijing’s move is a “breach of international peace,” noting that it is illegal and should be a cause of international concern.

Teodoro said the move is a “roguish and irresponsible threat,” stressing that what China claims as its internal waters are actually part of the high seas and part of Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.

“Such behavior is not only a violation of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) but also a violation of the precepts of the United Nations Charter which lays upon each responsible member state the duty to refrain from the threat or the use of force or aggression to enforce particularly in this case illegal territorial claims in the maritime domain,” he added.

The DND chief said what the Philippines does with its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and its measures to defend its territory can “in no way be termed by any sane person as a provocation.”

China ship in Bajo de Masinloc

As this developed, PN spokesperson for the WPS, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, confirmed the presence of the China Coast Guard’s (CCG) largest vessel, with bow number 5901, in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).

“Yes, as of this morning (Friday) it was 50 nautical miles from Bajo de Masinloc,” he said in an interview.

Earlier reports said the ship made a brief patrol in Bajo de Masinloc.

The CCG vessel is said to be the largest of its kind in the world, which measures 165 meters.

“The response will be at the NTF-WPS (National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea) level. It’s a Chinese Coast Guard ship and there will be (an) appropriate response from the NTF, Philippine Coast Guard,” he added. (PNA)