By Junex Doronio
March 21, 2021
MANILA — Apparently applying Sun Tzu’s “supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting,” around 220 Chinese fishing vessels, believed to be part of China’s maritime militia, have stealthily positioned themselves within the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea.
Although the authorities have later detected the evident foreign intrusion, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he is waiting for an order to “fire” a diplomatic protest from National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“Still waiting for the order to fire. I listen only to Generals; never to media or an NTF press release which amounts to nothing. Only a shot from DFA counts,” Locsin tweeted Sunday morning.
According to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), it has received a report from the Philippine Coast Guard about the presence of Chinese vessels seen in line formation at the Whitsun or Julian Felipe Reef on March 7.
The reef is located northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs about 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.
“Despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night time,” the NTF-WPS said in a statement released Saturday.
The task force stressed that the Philippines has “the exclusive right to exploit or conserve any resources which encompass both living resources, such as fish, and non-living resources such as oil and natural gas.”
“In consonance with the Philippine commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Government shall continue to peacefully and proactively pursue its initiatives on environmental protection, food security and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea as part of its overall national security policy,” the task force added. (AI/MTVN)