China violated international and domestic laws when its coast guard intentionally rammed Philippine vessels and harassed troops onboard during a resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea a week ago.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Secretary Eduardo Año said among those laws are the Convention on Collision at Sea, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“Dapat dun lahat ng (All) member states should exercise self-restraint and always opt [for] the use of peaceful means to settle disputes,” Año said in a Palace briefing on Monday.

Año also referred to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, which set out, among other things, the rules of the road or navigation rules to be followed by ships and other vessels to prevent collisions.

On the other hand, the SOLAS Convention is regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. It includes provisions on the safety of navigation, carriage of cargo, and management of the safety operations of ships, among others.

Meanwhile, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, signed by China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2002, reaffirmed freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful settlement of disputes, and self-restraint in the conduct of activities.

On June 17, China Coast Guard (CCG) boats rammed a Philippine government supply ship, brandished bladed weapons, and seized disassembled rifles during the country’s rotation and resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre.

During the confrontation, one Navy personnel had his thumb cut off after it got caught between Philippine and Chinese boats.

Año, however, said the CCG’s actions cannot be categorized as an armed attack based on international definition.

“We cannot classify it as armed attack because, by international definition of an armed attack, it is the use of military force, an excessive use of force that could trigger collective self defense,” he said.

Despite China’s continued aggression, the Philippines will resort to peaceful resolutions.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro said the bilateral consultative mechanism on the South China Sea dispute between the two countries are set to meet “sometime in the near future” in the Philippines.

It will be the second meeting between the two parties since January, Lazaro noted.

“There were discussions and some confidence-building measures that have been formulated,” Lazaro told Palace reporters in a separate interview, referring to the Jan. 17 meeting in Shanghai.

“And now we are… it’s just that there are certain possibilities of us meeting again sometime in the near future. But this is to complement what has been… it is a very important aspect, is really the diplomatic front,” she added. (PNA)