The Philippines' diplomatic ties with China took another caustic turn Monday when Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin told China to "get the f— out" of Philippine waters after months of swarming the area despite repeated demands from Manila to pull out.
Locsin's latest remarks on Twitter came just as the Philippines lodges a new diplomatic protest against China for "belligerent" actions of Chinese Coast Guard to Philippine Coast Guard vessels patrolling and conducting training exercises in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.
"China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province," Locsin said.
Professor Rommel Banlaoi, a security analyst, said Locsin's remarks are just worsening the situation.
"It's not contributing, it's worsening the situation because it is also agitating the people in China and if the China's public is agitated, it will justify China's continuing military development in areas where China has conflict," Banlaoi said in Chino Gaston's report on "24 Oras."
Meanwhile, Malacañang said Locsin is free to speak his mind.
"Hindi po natin pinanghihimasukan ang karapatan ng malayang pananalita ni Secretary Locsin [We will not meddle with Secretary Locsin's right to free speech]," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
The Philippine Coast Guard, together with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), conducted training exercises near the shoal on April 24 and 25.
China's embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Chinese ships did "shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges" against Philippine vessels.
The DFA said it can conduct maritime patrols and training exercises in the area as the shoal, known locally as Bajo de Masinloc, and areas that make up the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in the South China Sea are "integral parts of the Philippines."
"China has no law enforcement rights in these areas," the DFA said.
Although the shoal is claimed by the Philippines, an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in 2016 that no country can claim sovereign rights over Scarborough, saying it is a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.
China refused to recognize the ruling, saying it is within its territory. The shoal is 472 nautical miles from China’s nearest coastal province of Hainan and lies 124 nautical miles off the nearest Philippine landmass of Palawan.
China blocked Filipinos from fishing at Scarborough—a U-shaped rocky outcrop rich in marine resources seized by Beijing from Manila in 2012 following a two-month standoff that triggered an international arbitration complaint by the Philippines eight years ago.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims Chinese sovereignty over shoal—an assertion rejected by Manila, saying it does not have basis under international law nor recognized by the international community.
The Philippines has filed a series of protests in connection with the presence of the foreign vessels in Julian Felipe Reef and vowed to file diplomatic protests every day until all Chinese ships leave the area.
Around 160 Chinese vessels were spotted in Philippine waters, the DFA said, noting their lingering presence "blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction."
China and five other governments—Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan—are embroiled in years-long disputes over the resource-rich South China Sea, particularly in its southern part, called the Spratlys.
Parts of the South China Sea that fall under the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone has been renamed West Philippine Sea by the Philippine government. —with Agence France-Presse and Ma. Angelica Garcia/KBK/BM, GMA News