THE Philippine military on Thursday accused China of pointing a radar gun at one of its navy ships that prompted the government of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to protest the aggression.

“This hostile act on the part of Chinese Government and encroachment within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone is perceived as a clear violation of international law and Philippine sovereignty,” the military’s Western Command said in a statement.

The Joint Task Force West reported that on Feb. 17, a Chinese-owned PLAN vessel had pointed a radar gun toward them, citing the commanding officer of BRP Conrado Yap.

The Chinese ship’s naval gun director — a mechanical or electronic computer that continuously calculates trigonometric firing solutions for use against a moving target, and transmits targeting data to direct the weapon firing crew — was allegedly pointed at the Philippine boat.

“This gun control director can be used to designate and track targets and makes all the main guns ready to fire in under a second,” according to the task force report.

The Philippine crew also said that when they challenged the vessel during the incident, it responded that China has “imputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea, its islands and adjacent waters.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. on Wednesday filed a diplomatic protest to the Chinese Embassy in Manila for the gun-pointing incident and another one for its plan to set up two districts in Paracel and Spratly Islands.

The two administrative units are under the control of Sansha City, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said on its news website on April 17.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said the Philippines should sue China for its reclamation activities in the past six years that damage reefs in the South China Sea.

She earlier said China should pay about $200 billion in damages, which the Philippine can use in its battle against the coronavirus disease 2019, which was first detected in China’s Wuhan City.

“If they refuse to pay those amounts, the Philippine government could consider filing a case before the international tribunal,” Ms. Baraquel told the ABS-CBN News Channel yesterday.

“There are remedies, especially now that the Department of Foreign Affairs has taken the first step in making that diplomatic protest.”

She also said China should be made liable for failing to immediately notify the World Health Organization about the virus that has sickened 2.6 million and killed more than 184,000 people worldwide. — Charmaine A. Tadalan