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Philippines files protest vs China; envoy no-show at DFA

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has lodged a diplomatic protest against China over last Sunday’s “dangerous blocking maneuvers” by its ships that led to one of them “slightly” colliding with a Philippine vessel carrying supplies and provisions for troops stationed on BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza yesterday said they summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to convey the protest, but it was Deputy Chief of Mission Zhou Zhiyong who showed up, as the ambassador was reportedly out of town. The DCM met with DFA Assistant Secretary Aileen Mendiola-Rau.

The Chinese embassy said its diplomat “made solemn representations... on the trespassing of the Philippine vessels into the Ren’ai Reef area... expressing strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the trespassing.” Ren’ai Reef is the name given by Beijing to Ayungin Shoal.

Sunday’s incident, Daza said, has put into serious doubt the sincerity of the Chinese in upholding the understanding between President Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We’ve already filed (diplomatic protest). The DCM was summoned so the protest was also conveyed,” Daza said at a press conference.

The Philippines has filed a total of 465 protests since January 2020, according to Daza. Manila has lodged 122 protests under the Marcos administration. For this year alone, 55 protests have been filed.

“The Philippine government has come out to actually strongly condemn this dangerous, irresponsible and illegal action of the Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia,” Daza said. “We strongly believe, China, this is our Exclusive Economic Zone, this is our water,” she said, addressing Beijing.

“China has no right to linger in and around the waters of Ayungin Shoal and actually to interfere with the Philippines’ legitimate activities in and around the waters of Ayungin Shoal,” she added.

The DFA official emphasized that the Philippines exercises sovereign right and jurisdiction over Ayungin Shoal, which is within the Philippines’ EEZ and continental shelf as affirmed by the 2016 ruling on the South China Sea issue by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The