Chinese vessels near PH-occupied islands should go away, they have no business of being there - Palace
Malacanang said on Wednesday that the Chinese vessels spotted not only near Pag-asa Island but also in nearby Philippine-occupied islands in the South China Sea should go away because they have no business of being there.
A report by Inquirer.net said that Chinese vessels, suspected as maritime militia, were spotted near Kota and Panata islands apart from Pag-asa Islands.
Asked if the Chinese vessels should go away, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a press briefing, said, "they should. They have no business being there."
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier issued a strong statement against the presence of Chinese ships near Pag-asa Island, which is part of the Kalayaan Municipality in Palawan.
He has said that Pag-asa belongs to the Philippines and China should layoff the island.
If China would touch Pag-asa, he has said that he would order the Filipino soldiers to "prepare for suicide missions."
While the Philippines has remained friendly with China "with respect to trade relations," Panelo said, "we will always assert sovereignty when it is being impaired or assaulted."
He said if it is true that there were also Chinese vessels near the other Philippine-occupied islands, the Department of Foreign Affairs would surely file another diplomatic protest with Beijing.
He said foreign vessels "cannot be intruding in our territorial property."
"If they continue to be present in our territory, then it is an assault to our sovereignty," he stressed.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including those within 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Celerina Monte/DMS