Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Saturday vowed that the House of Representatives would oppose any arrest made by China within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.

“The House of the Filipino People will not tolerate any arrests of our citizens or fishermen within our own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We will fiercely defend our sovereignty and ensure the safety and rights of our people,” the leader of the 300-plus-strong House said in a statement.

“China’s aggressive pronouncements are a blatant escalation of tensions in the West Philippine Sea. These unilateral actions flagrantly violate international law and the established norms that guide the Philippines and other law-abiding nations with claims in the South China Sea,” he said.

“China must respect international rulings and act as a responsible member of the global community, rather than imposing its own laws unilaterally and bullying other nations,” Speaker Romualdez said.

The country’s EEZ includes Scarborough or Panatag Shoal off Zambales and Pangasinan, which China seized in 2012, and Ayungin Shoal, not far from Palawan, where an old navy vessel is grounded and a platoon of Filipino soldiers is stationed as a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in that area.

There have been recent confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in Panatag and Ayungin.
China has announced that it has authorized its Coast Guard to detain for a maximum of 60 days without trial foreign trespassers who cross what it claims to be its borders.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, including most parts of the Philippines’ EEZ.