MANILA, PHILIPPINES — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said the Philippines may continue to file diplomatic protests against China if incursions and alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea continue despite a verbal agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month.
While Marcos and Xi met in Beijing in the first week of January, the Filipino leader noted that the 2 countries “haven’t come to that compromise yet” with regard to issues surrounding the disputed waters.
“If the timing of what we refer to as shadowing… that incident happened right after I returned from China,” Marcos Jr. said, referring to a recent incident at Ayungin Shoal where Chinese vessels tailed Filipino fishing boats who were sailing within Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
“That does not preclude us from continuing to make protest, send note verbales, concerning this… I just hope we can come to some kind of arrangement,” he said.
Marcos Jr. added that he does not “see the utility for the Chinese” to continue “shadowing” Filipino fisherfolk as “these fishing boats do no pose a threat to anyone.”
“I think the actions that are needed are really from the Chinese side. We do not send coastguard boats into what we consider their waters or international waters,” he said.
During his state visit to China, Marcos Jr. said that he and Xi agreed to “raise the level of discourse bet the Philippines and China” to the ministerial level to quickly address misunderstandings and miscalculations in the disputed waters.
Despite the agreement, Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea have continued.
In 2016, an international tribunal invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea and awarded an arbitral victory to the Philippines.
Manila has yet to enforce the ruling, while Beijing ignored it.