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‘China artificial islands nearing Philippines coasts’

HONOLULU – Chinese military facilities on reclaimed land features in the West Philippine Sea have come alarmingly close to the country’s coastlines, President Marcos said yesterday as he expressed concern over what he called “false narratives,” “coercive tactics” and “dangerous maneuvers” aimed at restricting activities in Philippine territorial waters.

In his remarks at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Marcos said the Philippines has to work with its allies, including treaty partner United States, to maintain peace in the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines calls its area in the South China Sea the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos did not specifically mention China, but he was apparently referring to the Asian giant, which had reclaimed numerous land features in the West Philippine Sea and turned them into bases and fortresses from which Chinese aircraft and ships are deployed to harass Philippine vessels and fishing boats.

He said tensions in the West Philippine Sea are growing, with “persistent unlawful threats and challenges” against the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

Such actions, he said, were violations of international law, specifically the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and were inconsistent with the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea.

Marcos lamented that progress has been slow in the crafting of a code of conduct for South China Sea claimants.

He revealed that the Philippines has approached other countries in the region with which it has disputes like Vietnam and Malaysia “to make our own code of conduct.”

“Supported by the rules-based international order and our growing partnerships, both time-tested and new ones, we will insist on the preservation of the sovereignty and integrity of the country, while working closely with international partners in the bilateral, regional and multilateral settings in developing rules and processes to address these challenges,” the President said.

Marcos described the role of the Philippines’ alliance with the US as “critical,” noting that Washington is