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Bato urges DFA to use 'other approaches' to protest China's actions in SCS

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Tuesday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to seek other ways to get the attention of China to oppose its incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

That's as Dela Rosa expressed his frustration over China's dismissiveness about the country's diplomatic protests.

“Parang we are sick and tired of all these diplomatic protests. Parang walang nangyayari. Hindi nila inaaksyunan, iniignore nila. Siguro [may] other modes, other approaches na pwede natin gawin? You're in talking terms naman siguro ‘yung ambassador na ‘yan. Pwede mo sila tawagan,” Dela Rosa asked Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo during the Senate finance committee hearing on the agency’s proposed 2024 budget.

The senator said he would even ask the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines in a drinking session just to get relevant information.

“Kung pwede siguro, kung ako ang secretary of Foreign Affairs, tawagan ko ‘yung ambassador na ‘yan. ‘Halika dito. Lasingin kita.’ Kanya-kanyang diskarte ba…paano ito gawin yan. Diskartehan mo para makuha natin ang impormasyon galing sa kanila,” he added.

The senator posed the question after the Chinese Coast Guard installed floating barriers in the southern portion of Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc—which were eventually removed by the Philippine Coast Guard.

“You, being the secretary of Foreign Affairs, halimbawa, ‘yun nga, nabalita na hinarangan nila doon, can you not call the attention of the Chinese ambassador here? Let him explain to you bakit nila ginawa ‘yon, pwede bang ganon?," Dela Rosa asked.

Dela Rosa explained that this is important because it is part of seeking accountability from the Chinese government.

“It’s accountability. Ikaw man ang representative ng Chinese government dito sa aming bansa, na kami ay apektado by the actions that's being committed by your Coast Guard. Naglagay sila ng harang don,” he said.

“As I've said, ‘di ako exposed sa trabaho ninyo, di ko alam yung mga protocol niyo. Alam ko puro mga properly kayo, pero sana if you think na nakita nyo na lahat na lang ng formal protest na ginagawa natin walang nangyari, mag-deviate kayo nang kaunti, diskarte para makakuha tayo ng pansin galing sa kanila,” he added.

In an interview with Manalo before the hearing, the DFA chief said the removal of the floating barriers is consistent with the Philippines’ position on the West Philippine Sea.

Scarborough Shoal  is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and is considered one of the traditional fishing grounds for Filipinos. It is located 229.6 kilometers (124 nautical miles) away from Zambales.

The DFA said the shoal, known locally as Bajo de Masinloc, was "an integral part of the Philippines over which we have sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction according to UNCLOS."

Meanwhile, the DFA said the Philippines was prepared to take all "appropriate measures" to enforce its rights over the Scarborough Shoal. —VAL, GMA Integrated News