(File photo from Bongbong Marcos's official FB page)

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday said China’s policy to detain alleged “trespassers” in the South China Sea, including those overlapping in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is “completely unacceptable.”

On the sidelines of the signing of alliance between the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) in Makati City, Marcos said the government will take “whatever measures” to protect Filipinos amid escalating tensions in the contested waters.

“That kind of action would be completely unacceptable to the Philippines,” Marcos said.

“I do not talk about the operational details so leave it to us. But the position that we take is that, that is unacceptable and we will take whatever measures to always protect our citizens,” he added.

China reportedly empowered its own Coast Guard to detain for up to 60 days without trial foreign trespassers who will cross what it claims are its borders.

This came after the Atin To Coalition successfully finished its civilian convoy to Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

China’s new trespass rule met fierce criticism from Philippine authorities.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson Jay Tarriela said the move was just another “illegal action” by Beijing justified by its “imaginary” nine-dash-line claim to nearly all of the South China Sea.

In 2016, the Philippines won a landmark international arbitration case against China, invalidating its ambitious nine-dash line claim that owns the entire South China Sea.

Philippine lawmakers also blasted China’s new rule with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri saying that it violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which protects the freedom of navigation at sea.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, for his part, vowed that the House of Representatives would oppose any arrest made by China within the 200-nautical mile 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. We will fiercely defend our sovereignty and ensure the safety and rights of our people,” Romualdez said.

He described China’s aggressive pronouncements as “blatant escalation of tensions” in the WPS.

“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,” Romualdez 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,” he added. (PNA)