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DFA: No provocative PH actions in Bajo de Masinloc

MANILA: Philippine activities in Bajo de Masinloc are not escalating tension in the South China Sea and do not violate international laws, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

Bajo de Masinloc is a high tide feature and a traditional fishing ground for Filipinos, which means that Filipinos have all the right to fish there, its 12-nautical mile territorial sea, and the surrounding seas within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the DFA asserted in a statement.

‘It is the duty of Philippine authorities to support and protect them in the exercise of this right. These actions are not provocative and do not violate the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,’ it added.

‘Activities that infringe upon the Philippines’ sovereignty and jurisdiction in Bajo de Masinloc and its surrounding territorial sea are violations of international law, particularly UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the 2016 Arbitral Award,’ it added.

The DFA issued the
statement after China’s Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Zhang Xiaogang criticized the joint military exercises and patrols in the area, asserting that the Philippines ‘enticed countries out of the region to stir up the situation in the South China Sea.’

Zhang said the Philippines ‘seriously violated the principles of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and jeopardized regional peace and stability, and runs counter to the efforts of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability’ with such actions.

In 2013, the Philippines filed a case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands.

The case devolved on the legal status of reefs, rocks and artificial islands in Bajo de Masinloc and the Spratly Islands group.

In 2016, the Court ruled in favor of the Philippines, declaring China’s assertions have no legal basis.

Source: Philippines News Agency