Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Philippines files new protest vs China for another Scarborough incident

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday afternoon filed a new diplomatic protest against China, this time for the harassment by Chinese ships and aircraft of M/Y Saranggani, a Philippine-registered private ship (yacht) with nine French nationals onboard conducting archeological research in the area.

In a statement texted to the media, the DFA also stressed that Scarborough Shoal is more than just within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone or Continental Shelf, but actually part of the municipality of Masinloc, province of Zambales. It reiterated that the shoal is only 124 nautical miles west of Zambales. The protest did not say that the shoal is more than 500 miles from the nearest point of China.

The Philippines demanded that the Chinese ships and aircraft cease the harassments of and fly-bys over M/Y Saranggani so that the boat and its crew can complete their work. 

Any attempted action by Chinese ships or aircraft against M/Y Saranggani will be considered by the Philippines as a gross violation of its national laws and of international law. Discussions still ended in a stalemate. The Department of Foreign Affairs will continue to exert efforts to reach a diplomatic solution. 

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the protest was filed through Chinese Ambassador to Manila Ma Keqing. 

Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio has taken over the negotiation tasks from DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario, who has flown to the United States on a previous engagement to campaign for the candidacy of Justice Florentino Feliciano to the International Court of Justice. 

Del Rosario is also scheduled to meet with some US legislators and is expected to talk about the ongoing diplomatic standoff on the Scarborough Shoal.