Filipino President Marcos vows response to China in disputed waters

By Anadolu Agency

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Thursday vowed to respond to China in the disputed South China Sea where the two maritime neighbours are engaged in a tussle amid overlapping claims.

“Over the succeeding weeks there shall be, implemented by the relevant national government agencies and instrumentalities, a response and countermeasure package that is proportionate, deliberate, and reasonable in the face of the open, unabating, and illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous attacks by agents of the China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia,” Marcos said on X.

His statement comes as the China Coast Guard has tried to block Manila’s supplies to its grounded warship BRP Sierra Madre in disputed waters in the vast sea. Beijing has used water cannons against Filipino vessels to stop them from reaching the rusting ship.

Manila has said its personnel were injured and vessels damaged.

The maritime neighbours, China and the Philippines have conflicting claims over the Second Thomas Shoal – also known as the Ayungin Shoal, Bai Co May, and Ren’ai Jiao – which is a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Without naming any nation or organization, Marcos said Manila has been “in constant communication with representatives of relevant allies, partners, and friends in the international community.”

“They have offered to help us on what the Philippines requires to protect and secure our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction while ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” said the Filipino president.

Marcos’ statement also comes following a phone call by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with his Filipino counterpart where he reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines and criticized as “dangerous” China’s use of water cannon and disruption of a Philippine resupply mission over the weekend.

“I have given them our requirements and we have been assured that they will be addressed,” Marcos added.

The Philippines president stressed Manila seeks “no conflict with any nation, more so nations that purport and claim to be our friends but we will not be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience.”

“Filipinos do not yield,” he added.

‘Won’t allow Philippines to act wilfully’

China Thursday said it won’t allow Manila “to act wilfully,” state media reported.

Défense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian accused the Philippines of “harassment and provocations” and said such actions were the “immediate cause of the recent escalation of the South China Sea issue.”

“Counting on the support of external forces,” Wu claimed the Philippine side had “violated” international law and the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Manila “frequently infringed upon China’s sovereignty, made provocations and created troubles, and spread misinformation to mislead the international community,” he said, reacting to the US and Filipino statements blaming the Chinese side for obstructing resupply missions to the grounded warship.