A provincial legislator has expressed dismay over what he described as Beijing’s repeated inaction on the diplomatic protests filed by Manila concerning its aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Speaking during their regular session on Tuesday, Board Member Roseller S. Pineda noted that China continues to ignore the government’s diplomatic protests regarding its encroachment into WPS, which is part of the Philippine territory.

He said China may have no respect at all towards the country’s sovereign rights in the WPS as it constantly ignores warnings and proceeds with its activities, the latest of which were reported by fishermen who saw Chinese vessels “conducting surreptitious activities near Spratly Island.”

He also claimed that China has been singling out the Philippines in its bullying campaign even if there are other countries claiming jurisdiction over some parts of WPS.

“Hindi lang China at Pilipinas ang may dispute dyan. Nandyan din yung Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, at Malaysa, pero kung papansinin natin, ang ibang bansa ay hindi ini-encroach ng China. At kung ito ay alam ng mga mangingisda, siguradong mas alam ng mga ahensya ng pamahalaan na may mga sophisticated na kagamitan,” Pineda stated.

“Pero bakit when it comes to diplomatic relations, mahina yung ating personalidad sapagkat hindi naman pinakikialaman yung ibang bansa doon sa kini-claim natin at doon din pumapasok yung mga Tsino,” he added.

To date, DFA said the Philippines has filed at least 405 diplomatic protests over China’s aggression in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in WPS, 48 of which were filed when President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. took office on June 30.

Pineda said such aggressions leave Filipino fishermen helpless, and they are appealing for help and security that will assure them that they can go fishing without fear of being bullied and asked to go away by the Chinese vessels.

“This scenario has happened not only in our province, but also in other places where there is the presence of Chinese vessels, and our fishermen are left without choice but to leave the area to avoid any serious encounters that may occur,” he said.

“I brought [up] this issue not to create tension among others but to raise continued vigilance in our territories involving other sovereignties. With this, I highly hope that we continue to be aware of the activities being performed within our territory and to uphold the national laws of the Philippines as well as international pacts and conventions binding the international community,” he added.

He also said that while there have been similar moves in the past, they must not tire of doing it again to protect the Filipino fishermen in the area.

“This unwillingness to cooperate by foreign authorities to respect our territorial boundaries sends a feeling of fear and unsafety among the local fisherfolk fishing in that area. I know for a fact that this is not new to us. The unsupervised activities of Chinese vessels have been in the news before. And the national government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense, has already talked about it, invoking our territorial rights and ownership,” Pineda said.

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