Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday ordered the filing of another diplomatic protest against China after 287 of its ships were spotted still in Palawan’s Kalayaan town in the West Philippine Sea.
“@DFAPHL fire diplomatic protest,” wrote the foreign affairs chief in his social media account.
Locsin likewise lambasted the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) because of its failure to inform the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding updates on the presence of Chinese vessels prior to releasing a statement to the media.
NTF-WPS on Wednesday reported that 287 Chinese vessels suspected to be maritime militia are still scattered over various areas in Kalayaan, both within and outside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, as of May 9.
Based on the latest maritime patrol, the task force said Beijing’s vessels were spotted in the following areas: Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Burgos (Gaven) Reef North, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef, Panata Island (Lankiam Cay), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, and part of the Pagkakaisa (Union) Banks including the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef.
It was also noted by the task force that “bigger groupings” of Chinese militia vessels were also seen at the artificial islands of China, as well as in areas near Philippine-occupied islands.