Marcos: China order to detain South China Sea ‘trespassers’ unacceptable

by mctlavern489330

By VINCE ANGELO FERRERAS, GMA Integrated News

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday condemned China’s move to arrest any foreign nationals trespassing in the South China Sea, which includes areas that fall under Manila’s exclusive economic zone.

“That kind of action would be completely unacceptable to the Philippines. Of course, once again, I do not talk about the operational details, so we will leave it to us,” said Marcos in a chance interview with reporters in Makati City.

“But the position that we take is that that is unacceptable, and we will take whatever measures to always protect our citizens.”

Beijing’s controversial regulation, which will take effect in June, allows the China Coast Guard to detain trespassers for up to 60 days, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

GMA News Online sought a comment from the Chinese Embassy in Manila regarding Marcos’ remarks, but it had yet to reply as of posting time.

Earlier in the day, Marcos called on the new graduates of the Philippine Military Academy to sacrifice for the country in the face of threats to national territory and those who seek to divide the Filipino people.

“Against intruders who have been disrespecting our territorial integrity, we will vigorously defend what is ours, but our conduct always guided by law and [by] our responsibility as a rules-abiding member of the community of nations,” the President said.

China’s expansive claims over the South China Sea overlap with the West Philippine Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal.

But the Atin Ito Coalition was still able to reach the Scarborough Shoal for its civilian mission on May 16, despite the blockade by Chinese vessels.

Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and within the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Marcos’ cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, also slammed the latest Chinese policy, which he feared could escalate tensions in the disputed waters.

Wiretapping

Meanwhile, Marcos said the government was looking into the alleged wiretapping of the Chinese Embassy personnel into a conversation about the supposed “new model” deal over the Ayungin Shoal.

“I keep hearing that there is a tape, and I keep wanting to hear it. And as yet, we don’t have it,” the President said. “So it’s very hard to come to a conclusion until we know that the thing actually exists.”

If such a recording exists, Marcos said that the Chinese government could be in possession of it.

“So until they release it, it becomes harder and harder to believe and accept that there was an agreement,” he added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines already dismissed China’s claims that it made an agreement with a Chinese diplomat over Ayungin Shoal, saying that transcripts and audio recordings could be fabricated.

Several government officials have also called for the expulsion of Chinese diplomats that could be involved in the alleged wiretapping. — VBL, GMA Integrated News

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