On October 23, 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. mandated the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to investigate China's recent harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The supply boat Unaizah May 2 and a PCG vessel BRP Cabra, were purposely targeted by Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels on October 22, 2023, according to the Philippine Navy and PCG. The Philippine vessels were conducting a legitimate rotation and resupply (RORE) mission within the Philippines' 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
According to Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro “The President called a special Command Conference [this] morning of the national security and defense clusters in order to be briefed and to give his guidance on the latest violation by China of the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines.”
“The Philippine government views the latest aggression by China as a blatant violation of international law. China has no legal right or authority to conduct law enforcement operations in our territorial waters. We are taking this incident seriously at the highest level of government,” Defense Secretary Teodoro added.
The President has instructed the PCG to begin with its maritime investigation as soon as possible in accordance with international maritime safety regulations. According to the PCG, the investigation will be completed in five days.
The Defense Secretary stated that “China’s recent action is a serious escalation of the illegal activities conducted by the Chinese government in the WPS and in complete disregard of any norm or convention of international law.”
He further added that Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo has summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on October 23, 2023 to condemn China’s illegal act. In addition, Jaime FlorCruz, the Philippine ambassador to China, was also given instructions to communicate to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Hinihimok na lang po natin ang pagkakaisa ng ating bansa sa likod ng gobyerno sa ating mga hakbang upang i-secure ang territorial integrity and sovereignty ng ating republika. (We are simply urging the unity of our country behind the government in our steps to secure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our republic," Defense Secretary Teodoro stated during the press briefing.
“Kaya po minabuti ng ating pamahalaan, sa liderato po ng ating Pangulo, na maghayag ngayong araw na ito upang sa ganun ay huwag na pong kumalat ang fake news at anumang mga espekulasyon. Kaya maniwala na lang po sa ating gobyerno at huwag po itong maging ugat ng pagtatanim ng fake news ng Tsina at ng iba upang tayo’y magkawatak-watak. (That's why our government, under the leadership of our President, decided to make an announcement today so fake news and any speculations will not spread. Let us believe in our government and don't let it be the root of fake news planted by China and others to make us become divided),” the Defense Secretary added.
Defense Secretary Teodoro urged the people to support the government as it carried out its constitutional duty to safeguard the country's interest in the WPS.
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