China is 'actual trespasser' in Ayungin Shoal: Lorenzana

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (left) and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday refuted anew China's claims in the Ayungin Shoal, describing them as the actual trespassers in the area.

The statement came after China on November 24 demanded the Philippine government to "honor its commitment" and remove the grounded BRP Sierra Madre in the shoal.

"As far as I know there is no such commitment. That ship has been there since 1999. If there was (a) commitment it would have been removed a long time ago," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

He underscored that Ayungin Shoal lies within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) where it has sovereign rights.

"Our EEZ was awarded to us by the 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) which China ratified. China should abide by its international obligations that it is part of," he said in a Facebook post.

"Furthermore, the 2016 Arbitral award ruled that the territorial claim of China has no historic nor legal basis. Ergo, we can do whatever we want there and it is they who are actually trespassing," he added.

The defense chief reiterated that Manila has two documents to prove that it has sovereign rights in this EEZ while Beijing has none.

"[S]ila ay wala (nito) at yung claim nila ay walang basehan (They don't have this and their claim doesn't have a basis," he said.

The 2016 Arbitration Award rendered under UNCLOS had ruled that the Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal lies within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile EEZ and continental shelf, a decision recognized by the international community, including the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union.

'Wolf warrior release'

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Thursday insisted that the Ayungin Shoal is part of its waters and went on claiming that the resumption of Manila's resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre is "a provisional, special arrangement out of humanitarian considerations."

"China demands that the Philippine side honor its commitment and remove its grounded vessel on Ren'ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal). This position remains unchanged," he said.

He also indicated the Chinese Coast Guard's continued presence in the area, saying it "patrolled" and "monitored from start to end the Philippine side's supply delivery activities."

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), meanwhile, branded these latest Chinese remarks as mere "wolf warrior" release.

Last week, no less than Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. emphasized that China has "no law enforcement rights in and around" this area.

"We will endeavor to ask if a reaction/statement is forthcoming to this bait-worthy wolf warrior release. I believe (Foreign Affairs Secretary) Locsin has stated before that countries are free to say whatever they want - I will add that whether the 'court of global public opinion' believes your narrative is another story altogether," DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez said in a text message to reporters. (PNA)

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