Esperon recommended DFA file diplomatic protest after 100 Chinese vessels swarmed Pagasa Island
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said he recommended to the Department of Foreign Affairs ( DFA) to file a diplomatic action against the swarming of at least 100 Chinese fishing vessels around Pagasa Island.
In a forum in Manila on Wednesday, Esperon said around 113 Chinese fishing vessels were seen around Pagasa Island last July 25 from previous 61 vessels last February.
“I’m telling you right now, there are a lot of Chinese fishing vessels there. The new record (from previous) February 8 which reach 61 (vessels) was last July 25 which reach 113 (vessels),” he said.
“We are looking into it and we are filing- I have recommended a diplomatic action in regards to that,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., said in his Twitter account he filed the diplomatic protest.
Esperon said the vessels left due to bad weather and moved to Subi Reef.
“Don’t worry because as of now, if on last July 25 there are a lot (of vessels), now there are none. Yesterday they are gone. Well, (it could be the) weather,” said Esperon.
Esperon said the Philippines filed a verbal note on the passage of Chinese warships through Sibutu Strait located in the southern part of the country without asking for clearance.
“We have (already filed)… It is reported, in fact that incident happened months ago and has been a subject of diplomatic action,” he said.
“What (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana mentioned is the naval assets of China that passed through Sibutu Channel. Customarily and we have seen that in our history, for six months all military vessels that passed through our territory asked for diplomatic clearance. It so happened that in our records, we don’t (find) any record that China asked for diplomatic clearance,” he said.
Esperon said the reason by the Chinese government is that is an “innocent passage”.
“We see it as they are in a sense correct about innocent passage in sea lanes but in our customs and traditions and our agreements with other countries, we always advise the country to ask for diplomatic clearance,” he said.
He added that vessels who seek clearance are even allowed to dock in the country.
Esperon said in three years of the Duterte administration, the country has not lost any island and they are strengthening and improving islands owned by the Philippines.
“A lot of people are saying that we give up the West Philippine Sea. No, we have even improve our position there,” he said.
He said materials for the construction of a seaport came to Pagasa Island and deliveries of materials for construction and repair of the airport will follow.
“There are news that we lost the Sandy Cay. Sandy Cay is one of the new accretions beside Pagasa Island. We have three Sandy Cay there which is above sea level,” he said.
“I’m just telling you that we have not lost any island there and we have been strengthening our position which are in our possession in the West Philippine Sea,” he added. Ella Dionisio/DMS