By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
MANILA – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) urged the Philippine government to summon the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China and demand an explanation for the Chinese Embassy’s continuing disrespect of the country’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In a reaction to the Embassy’s statement claiming the Julian Felipe Reef as Chinese, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Ambassador Huang Xilian should be expelled if his explanation is unsatisfactory.
“The statement of the Chinese Embassy claiming the Julian Felipe Reef as well as dismissal of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the arbitral court decision of the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) is unacceptable,” Reyes said.
Reyes added that the Embassy’s assertion that the Philippines has no rights over its EEZ is disrespectful.
“We have sovereign rights over our EEZ. Chinese fishing vessels must not be allowed there. They should not decimate the riches of the sea that should only be for the benefit of Filipinos,” he said.
Bayan’s remark came after the Embassy dismissed Saturday demands by Philippine defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana for Chinese vessels to leave Julian Felipe Reef off the coast of Palawan province.
‘Chinese fishing ground’
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said Lorenzana’s statement are “perplexing” and “unprofessional remarks.”
The Embassy added that what the Philippine calls the Julian Felipe Reef is called Niu’e Jiao that is part of China’s Nansha Islands.
“The waters around Niu’e Jiao have been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fishermen for many years. The Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the waters for their livelihood every year,” the Embassy said.
“It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions. Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” it added.
More than 200 Chinese boats have been reported to have stayed near the reef for several weeks since March, raising howls of protest across the Philippines.
The Chinese said the boats have only sought refuge in the reef due to rough waters.
Lorenzana on Saturday said the remaining 44 Chinese vessels that are in Julian Felipe Reef should leave.
“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan,” Lorenzana said. (You should leave.)
In a later statement Sunday, Lorenza said the utter disregard by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of international law specially the UNCLOS is “appalling”.
Lorenza pointed out that the PRC is a party to the UNCLOS.
“Its nine-dash line claim is without any factual or legal basis. This, together with its so-called historical claim, was flatly and categorically rejected by the arbitral tribunal,” he added.