Palace says while PH friendly with China, it doesn't mean it won't react to intrusion into its territory
Malacanang said on Wednesday that even if the Philippines and China are friends, it did not mean that Beijing could intrude on Manila's territorial sovereignty.
In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed President Rodrigo Duterte's statement on Tuesday night that China just wants to be friends with the Philippines.
"What the President means is supposedly we are in a friendly relations but it doesn't mean that the government we are friendly with can do anything they want, especially if they are now intruding into our territorial sovereign, that's a different matter," he said.
Panelo earlier said the Department of Foreign Affairs was to file a note verbale with the Chinese Embassy due to the presence of over 200 Chinese vessels in Pag-asa Island off Palawan province and within the 200 exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
Quoting the report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, he has said that on board the vessels were Chinese militia men, not fishermen, who were apparently monitoring the area.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including Pag-asa.
"We're friends, (but) the issue on arbitral ruling is different and our friendly relations with respect to trade or the sharing of intelligence information relative to the security of the state as against terrorism or illegal drugs," said Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China's historic and sovereign claim in almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line.
"That's why when Western Command raised alarm, we did something, (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin (Jr.) sent note verbale or you can call it protest," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS