PH says China destabilizing peace in West Philippine Sea
The Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), on Friday accused China of destabilizing peace and security in the West Philippine Sea after its coast guard used a laser pointer against a Philippine government ship conducting a resupply mission in Ayungin shoal.
At a televised public briefing, DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza called on Beijing to restrain from this kind of actions, noting that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has already expressed serious concern over the laser-pointing incident.
"No less than the President has called attention [and expressed] serious concern about the increasing frequency and intensity of actions that are happening in West Philippine Sea, kaya nga po [that is why] we are calling on China to desist and restrain from this action kasi hindi lang ho ito [because it is not only] damaging, dangerous... it is also destabilizing in terms of stability and peace in the region," Daza said.
The DFA has already filed a diplomatic protest against China in connection with the laser-pointing incident.
GMA News Online has reached out to the Chinese Embassy in Manila but it has yet to respond as of posting time.
Marcos already summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian following the incident but the Palace did not disclose details regarding the extent of their meeting.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier accused the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship BRP Malapascua of intruding into Chinese waters but denied that its coast guard pointed lasers at the crew of the Philippine ship.
"We need to highlight the fact that the China Coast Guard ship did not direct lasers at the Philippine crew, and the hand-held equipment does not inflict damage on anything or anyone on the vessel," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said earlier this week.
The PCG said the "military-grade" laser caused temporary blindness to some of the crew members of BRP Malapascua.
Amid the tension, the PCG on Friday announced that it has strengthened and increased its presence and operations in the West Philippine Sea as directed by Marcos.
In a statement, the PCG said Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu deployed “one of the PCG Fleet's largest maritime assets” BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV-9701) to the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) on January 28.
Daza reiterated that there was no reason to doubt the PCG's account of the incident, saying that its report was verified.
"We received a report and the report has to be verified and there are actually other additional reports coming from the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea, and based on that there is an assessment, a verification and assessment, and based on that, a necessary diplomatic action is taken," she said.
Daza added that the DFA is "standing by" the PCG's report.
Some countries, including the United States, Japan, and Australia, have raised serious concerns over the laser-pointing incident and called for the observation of peace in the region.
According to Daza, a total of nine diplomatic protests were already lodged by the DFA against China this year. She added that in 2022, almost 195 protests were filed.
"Under the administration of our President, there's about 76 that have already been issued," she said.
"Through diplomatic action, we were able to say that this should not continue, this is violative of international law."
Asked if China has responded to these protests, the DFA official said sometimes China would respond to a particular incident and sometimes it would give an "omnibus response." —KBK, GMA Integrated News