Philippines to China: Be accountable, remove illegal structures
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) urged Beijing to dismantle its infrastructures, halt all reclamations, and take full accountability for the damages caused in the West Philippine Sea.
This is in response to the incident on November 10, where China Coast Guard and militia vessels again used water cannons and made dangerous maneuvers in an attempt to block a Philippine resupply mission for troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.
“We call on China to remove all these illegal structures, cease reclamations in the South China Sea, and be accountable for the damages caused by these illegal activities,” the DFA said in a statement on Thursday.
The DFA emphasized that the Philippines does not need China's permission for resupply missions within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as it is a right protected by international law.
“The resupply mission to and the upkeep of the BRP Sierra Madre are legitimate Philippine government activities in our EEZ, and in accordance with international law, particularly UNCLOS,” the DFA said in a statement.
“It is difficult to imagine how these activities could be deemed threatening to China,” they added.
The BRP Sierra Madre was positioned at Ayungin Shoal since 1995 in direct response to China's occupation of Mischief Reef.
In recent months, China has been provoking incidents during the Philippines' resupply missions to the stationed BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal, leading to multiple diplomatic protests.
On October 27, the Department of Justice announced that the Marcos Jr. administration would pursue an environmental case against Beijing in an international court for the damage to corals in the West Philippine Sea.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippine Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro condemned Beijing's recent incursions.
“Taking note of the concerns expressed about the PRC's recent harassment by a growing number of foreign governments globally, they also emphasized that the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Ruling is final and binding on the Parties and called on the PRC to abide by its obligations under international