Feb 262013
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday protested China’s routine fishery patrols in the disputed South China Sea as part of it would include areas within the Philippines’ territorial waters.

“The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea. Such activities would not validate the nine-dash line and are contrary to China’s obligation under international law including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Hernandez said at a press briefing.

China’s nine-dash line is a U-shaped map that covers nearly 90 percent of the South China Sea.

“We again call in China to respect our territorial sovereignty and exclusive economic zone,” Hernandez said.

China’s Fishery Bureau last week announced that patrols in the resource-rich waters, where Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims, will be a “top priority” in 2013 and 2014.

The patrols, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency, aim to safeguard the “legitimate interests of Chinese fishermen.”

China’s announcement came on the same week it rejected Manila’s initiative to let a United Nations arbitration body hear the Philippines’ complaint over what it calls Beijing’s “excessive” claim to waters where undersea gas deposits have been discovered in several areas.

China said Manila’s case was legally infirm and carried unacceptable allegations.

Regarding the fishery patrols, Hernandez said the Philippines “exercises sovereignty and sovereign rights over the waters and features in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea.”

“Therefore, we continue to call on China to act responsibly and to refrain from taking further action that would heighten tensions in the region,” he added. — Michaela del Callar/KBK, GMA News

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