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The Philippines declared it has “every right” for its vessels to operate around Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, countering Beijing’s claim of an il

National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano, in a statement on Tuesday, reinforced the country’s stance, stating, “Under international law, the Philippines has the right to patrol the length and breadth of the West Philippines Sea which necessarily includes Bajo de Masinloc.”

This comes in response to China’s assertion on Monday that a Philippine military ship had “illegally entered” the waters close to the Scarborough Shoal, an area Beijing had seized control of in 2012. The islands, situated approximately 220km off the Philippine coast, lie within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as stipulated by international maritime law.

This incident isn’t isolated. Throughout the year, China and the Philippines have encountered several tensions, with accusations against China of aggressive actions to bolster its claims on the vast majority of the South China Sea under its so-called nine-dash line. Notably, ships from both nations recently had near misses near the Second Thomas Shoal, which also falls under Manila’s EEZ. Adviser Ano urged China to demonstrate responsibility, respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and refrain from “aggressive and illegal actions in PH waters.”

Post the 2012 seizure of the Scarborough Shoal by China, the Philippines escalated the matter to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The court, favoring the Philippines, determined that UNCLOS took precedence over “any historic rights or other sovereign rights.” Despite Beijing’s signature on UNCLOS, it has neither recognized this ruling nor ceased its expansionist activities in the waters.


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