PBBM summons Chinese envoy over ‘military-grade laser’ incident

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MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. met with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian in Malacañang on Tuesday and discussed the reported harassment made by a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ship toward a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel in the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on Feb. 6.

In a press statement on Tuesday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Marcos raised his “serious concern” over China’s dangerous activity.

“The President summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian this afternoon to express his serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of actions by China against the Philippine Coast Guard and our Filipino fishermen in their bancas, the latest of which was the deployment of a military-grade laser against our Coast Guard vessels,” the PCO said.

In a separate statement, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said Marcos and Huang “exchanged views on how to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, strengthen dialogue and communication, and properly manage maritime differences between China and the Philippines.”

Defense officer-in-charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra and Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo were also at the meeting.

Earlier in the day, the Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed its eighth diplomatic protest this year before the Chinese Embassy in Manila, calling on Beijing to “cease and desist” its aggressive activities against Philippine vessels.

The diplomatic note “condemned the shadowing, harassment, dangerous maneuvers, directing of military-grade laser, and illegal radio challenges” by CCG vessel 5205 against the PCG vessel, BRP Malapascua.

The DFA asserted that the CCG’s actions constituted a threat to Philippine sovereignty and security as a state, and are infringements of its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

DFA spokesperson, Ma. Teresita Daza, said the “acts of aggression” are both “disturbing and disappointing” as it closely follows the January bilateral summit between Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the two leaders agreeing to manage maritime differences through diplomacy and dialogue.

During Marcos’ state visit to China, he and Xi agreed to establish a “direct communications line” on concerns related to the South China Sea in the West Philippine Sea to prevent any miscommunication between the two countries.

However, he said this hotline should not stop them from filing protests or sending notes verbales.

In another statement, Ned Price, US State Department spokesperson, said the “provocative and unsafe” use of military-grade laser light interfered with the Philippines’ lawful operations in and around Ayungin Shoal.

On Monday, China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin defended China’s action, saying the PCG vessel “intruded” into the waters “without Chinese permission.”

Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group, which is an integral part of the Philippines, as well as its EEZ and continental shelf, and over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

It is located about 105 nautical miles off Palawan, Philippines, well within the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.