PH won’t remove ship in Ayungin despite China’s threats

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MANILA -- Malacanang maintained Tuesday that the government will not remove a Philippine naval ship in the Ayungin Shoal despite China's threats.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. reiterated in the regular press briefing the statement made by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on March 14 regarding the issue.

"The BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine naval vessel, was placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent Philippine government installation in response to China's illegal occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995. This was prior to the signing of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002," Coloma said, citing DFA's statement.

He reiterated that Ayungin Shoal is part of the Philippine continental shelf over which the country has sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

"'Yan po ang malinaw na posisyon ng ating pamahalaan. Lahat naman po ng pagkilos natin diyan ay ayon sa international law at in accordance with our policy of pursuing only peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve the disputes on territorial claims," Coloma said.

China warned the Philippines against provocations in the West Philippine Sea after two Filipino civilian vessels were expelled from the Ayungin Shoal for allegedly bringing in construction materials.

The DFA protested the expulsion of the two Filipino civilian vessels in Ayungin Shoal, but China rejected the protest.

Filipino marines shelter in a rusted World War II era ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, that was intentionally grounded on Ayungin in 1999 in response to China’s occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line that included parts of the Philippines 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China before the United Nations International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). China has refused to take part in the proceedings. (SDR/Sunnex)

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