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Palace takes stronger stand on Chinese vessels

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Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo. — PHILSTAR

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday issued a stronger statement on the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

“While we remain friendly with respect to trade relations, we will always assert sovereignty when it is being impaired or assaulted,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said at a news conference at the Palace on Wednesday. He was asked to comment on a report by Inquirer.net about Chinese vessels spotted near Kota Island, which is part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

He added: “If they continue to be present in our territory, then it is an assault to our sovereignty.” Mr. Panelo said that the government “will object to their presence.”

“We already filed a diplomatic protest, and that applies to everything, anything that concerns Chinese vessels in our territory,” he said further.

Asked if another protest will be filed, he said: “I’m sure the Secretary of Foreign Affairs will do that, after validating the report.”

For his part, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a Twitter post regarding the West Philippine Sea: “The stand is that it is ours. And they took it. World’s highest court ruled that. Period. Now the question is how to take it back. I personally have no fear of war. One attack on a public vessel triggers World War 3 with the USofA which is impervious to attack from Asia.” — Arjay L. Balinbin