Philippines unfazed by China’s threat to arrest those entering ‘nine-dash’ line

Philippines unfazed by China’s threat to arrest those entering ‘nine-dash’ line

TENSIONS continue to escalate over the disputed territories in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Late April this year, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) experienced increased pressure from Chinese Coast Guard’s water cannon, resulting in damage to the BRP Bagacay.

In May, the PCG discovered illegal reclamation by China at Escoda Shoal, where broken corals were dumped, just 300 kilometers from Palawan, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Following this, a group of civilians conducted a convoy at Bajo de Masinloc, also known as the Scarborough Shoal, using small boats to assert our rights in the West Philippine Sea.

Because of this, the Chinese Coast Guard issued Order Number 30, effective June 15.

The order states that the Chinese Coast Guard can arrest anyone entering their territory, clearly affecting Filipinos due to China’s 9-dash line.

In an interview, Commodore Jay Tarriela, Spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard for the West Philippine Sea, said this move by China is merely an intimidation tactic towards civil society, not only in the Philippines but also in other countries.

“They released this news on the same day our convoy’s mission was declared successful, so we see this statement from China as just an empty threat. They want to discourage civil society not just here in the Philippines but with other claimants in the South China Sea, which is also their problem,” Comm. Jay Tarriela, Spokesperson, WPS, PCG said.

For the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), China’s action is unacceptable.

According to Sec. Enrique Manalo, China has no legal basis for this action, and it’s not just the Philippines that is affected but the entire world.

“The president made it clear that the announcement by China is unacceptable. In my view, it has no legal basis. There’s no legal basis for that. What’s even more worrying is that it does not only affect the Philippines. Theoretically, it will affect every country in the world,” Sec. Enrique Manalo, Department of Foreign Affairs stated.

Meanwhile, in a press conference, Philippine Navy Spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said China’s passed law is just part of their intimidation tactics.

“After passing a law, China will remain silent, and then they could threaten implementing that law. That is what is happening right now in the West Philippine Sea when they stated that they will arrest fishermen intruding in their own territory,” Comm. Roy Vincent Trinidad, Spokesperson for WPS, PN stated.

According to the official, based on the arbitral tribunal, the 9-dash line has no legal title, making China’s actions clearly illegal.

“I would like to emphasize the statement of our commander in chief. This is totally unacceptable. First and foremost, it has no basis in international law. It has already been ruled by the arbitral tribunal that the 9-dash line doesn’t have any legal entitlements. Hence, any action by the Chinese Coast Guard is illegal. It is unacceptable,”  Trinidad expressed.

Regarding the question of whether the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will allow any Filipinos to be arrested, Trinidad stated that they have plans in place for any situation.

“As always, we have been emphasizing the AFP lives on plans. So, we have a lot of plans if the situation arises. Based on the plan, then we know what to do. So, rest assured that we have a lot of contingency plans not only for this particular incident but for a range of incidents that may happen.”

“When we say the AFP will protect, there are many ways to do that. Number one, it is purely military action. It will entail a whole-of-nation approach to ensure that every Filipino is protected not only on land but importantly, in this particular case, in the maritime domain,” Trinidad added.

In the end, the official said the operations and mandate of the Philippine Navy to provide security to the Philippines’ territory continue despite China’s new threats.

“The guidance is we will continue doing our mandate of ensuring the integrity of the national territory, protecting the Filipinos, and securing or protecting our sovereignty. It will not deter us from performing our mandate,” he stressed.


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