MANILA criticized China on Monday after a coast guard ship allegedly blocked three Philippine civilian vessels trying to bring supplies to a navy ship that was deliberately run aground at the Second Thomas Shoal in 1999.
“Of course, it’s objectionable,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in mixed English and Filipino at a briefing. He added that the Chinese had no valid reason to block the Philippine ship because it was only trying to bring food.
The Defense department earlier said a Chinese Coast Guard ship had blocked three Philippine civilian vessels on a resupply mission in May to BRP Sierra Madre at the South China Sea shoal, which Manila calls Ayungin.
Last month, the Armed Forces said at least five Chinese warships had passed through the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi province in southern Philippines without notice.
The Palace has said that it would “shoo away” unauthorized foreign vessels including Chinese warships that pass through Philippine waters and use military force if necessary.
In his fifth visit to China, the President invoked a 2016 ruling by an international arbitration panel in the Hague that rebuffed Chinese claims over parts of the South China Sea.
The United Nations tribunal in July 2016 ruled China’s efforts to assert control over the South China Sea exceeded the law, rejecting its shared claims with Taiwan to more than 80% of the main waterway.
China rejected the decision of the international court, which has failed to halt its island-building activities in areas also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. — Arjay L. Balinbin