Filtered By: Topstories

Romualdez slams China order to detain foreign ‘trespassers’ in WPS

Romualdez slams China order to detain foreign trespassers in WPS.

Speaker Martin Romualdez on Saturday slammed China’s regulation of detaining foreigners trespassing in the West Philippine Sea, saying this will create further tensions in the disputed waters.

“China's aggressive pronouncements are a blatant escalation of tensions in the West Philippine Sea. These unilateral actions flagrantly violate international law and the established norms that guide the Philippines and other law-abiding nations with claims in the South China Sea,” Romualdez said in a statement.

The statement comes after China issued a regulation empowering its coast guard to detain foreigners trespassing in the South China Sea. It cited a regulatory document of Beijing set to take effect in June.

"Foreigners suspected of illegally passing China's borders can be held for up to 60 days," according to the media report.

Romualdez, however, urged China to respect international rulings and function as a responsible member of the global community, instead of imposing its own laws unilaterally and “bullying” other nations.

“The House of the Filipino People will not tolerate any arrests of our citizens or fishermen within our own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We will fiercely defend our sovereignty and ensure the safety and rights of our people,” he said.

Earlier, Atin Ito, the civilian group which recently went to Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) also denounced China's threat.

“China’s threats on so-called trespassers in the West Philippine Sea are a clear indication of their desperation," Akbayan president and Atin Ito Coalition co-convenor Rafaela David said in a statement.

"It is China which is trespassing in our seas. These threats are not only a violation of international law but also an admission by China that our peaceful, civilian-led initiatives are effective and winning the hearts and minds of many in the global community," she added.

Meanwhile, Romualdez earlier this week called on the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to submit a comprehensive and strategic "modernization plan" ahead of the deliberations on the proposed 2025 national budget.

Romualdez said the plan should outline the necessary steps and resources required to enhance the Coast Guard’s capabilities, particularly for patrolling and safeguarding the Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea.

"Our national security and sovereignty are paramount. By ensuring that our Coast Guard is well-equipped and well-funded, we can better protect our territorial integrity against external threats and assert our sovereign rights in these contested waters,” Romualdez

China's expansive claims over most of the South China Sea overlap with the West Philippine Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal which the Philippine civilian mission led by the Atin Ito coalition sought to reach.

Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). —Jamil Santos/ VAL, GMA Integrated News