Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza

The Philippine and Chinese governments are still working to operationalize the new communication line on South China Sea that was created following the state visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to Beijing, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.

“The communication mechanism is intended to ensure timely, effective, and peaceful management of urgent ongoing maritime issues and concerns of critical importance as determined by both sides on a case-to-case basis,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said in a press conference. “As with other bilateral arrangements, internal procedures have to be put in place to make the communication mechanism operational and this is being discussed with the Chinese counterparts.”

Daza was referring to the director-level communication mechanism established between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China on issues related to the South China Sea early this month.

She said the new mechanism is an addition to the existing diplomatic channels regularly used by both agencies such as notes verbales and the bilateral consultative mechanism, among others.

She noted that all maritime issues would continue to be raised through these channels, including the recent incident where the Chinese Coast Guard drove away a Filipino fishing both from Ayungin Shoal.

On the Ayungin Shoal, the DFA said it will make appropriate diplomatic action based on official reports.

“We seek your understanding that while it takes some time there is no intention to actually vacillate in terms of what we are supposed to do,” she said.

“[T]he DFA will act, will take the appropriate action, based on the assessment of the incident. There is an interagency process of cross-checking and when it is warranted a protest is issued,” she added.

The Philippines, China and several neighboring nations have overlapping territorial claims over the vast and resource-rich South China Sea.

Since 2022, the DFA has sent a total of 199 notes verbales and diplomatic protests to China, four of which were lodged this year. (PNA)

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