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PH deploys more maritime patrols in WPS amid China arrest threat

The Philippine Navy on Tuesday assured that “nothing will happen” as authorities brace for China's threat to arrest "trespassers" in the South China Sea.

Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said that they have increased patrols in the maritime area and also brought up the issue to their security partners and allies.

“Nothing will happen,” Trinidad said when asked how the Navy visualizes what's going to happen starting June 15. 

“The actions right now of the Philippine Navy, the Armed Forces, the Coast Guard, BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), and all other maritime players of the Philippine government is to prevent such a situation,” he added. 

Beijing's controversial regulation, which will take effect this month, allows the China Coast Guard to detain trespassers for up to 60 days, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

President Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. previously said that the move would be “completely unacceptable to the Philippines.”

“The position that we take is that that is unacceptable, and we will take whatever measures to always protect our citizens,” Marcos said. 

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., meanwhile, said China’s directive “is a provocation and a violation of the United Nations charter.”

The Defense chief also called China's "threat" as "roguish" and "irresponsible."

Trinidad said other countries, not only the Philippines, are concerned about China's order.

“This is not only a problem of the Philippines. It's a problem of ASEAN and the international community,” he said. 

“There are actions and messages being sent out for all players in the maritime domain to observe the rules-based international order and for sure, giving out statements like that are irresponsible, much more implementing them,” he continued. 

In April this year, the Philippines conducted a joint maritime activity with Australia, Japan, and the United States in the West Philippine Sea as a “show of unity” among the four countries.

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) conducted by military units of the four countries is something that is also undertaken by nations all over the world. 

The MCA seeks to "uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight, and respect for maritime rights under international law, reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” according to the defense chiefs of the 4 countries.

The combined defense forces involved in the joint maritime activity would also demonstrate the four countries' "collective commitment to strengthen regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific."

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. Its territorial claims overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled that China's massive claim over the South China Sea has no legal basis—a decision that Beijing does not recognize. —LDF, GMA Integrated News