MANILA – National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos said Tuesday she has recommended to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. the filing of a note verbale against China following reports that the Chinese Coast Guard interfered with the efforts of a Philippine naval station team to recover an unidentified floating object spotted near Pag-asa Island.
"Siguro 'yung pwedeng i-disclose sa public 'yung dati nating ginagawa, mag-note verbale tayo sa China (Perhaps what I can disclose to the public is what we have always done before and that is to file a note verbale against China),” Carlos, who also serves as the chair of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), said in an interview over DZBB.
She said the note verbale would bring up the recent bilateral meeting between Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where the two leaders discussed efforts to prioritize constructive engagement and critical dialogue.
“Sabihin natin na kakausap pa lang ni Xi Jinping at ni President Bongbong sa Cambodia at doon sila sinabi na talagang tutukuran nila constructive engagement at critical dialogue at ito nangyari naman ito (Let us say that this happened after Xi Jinping and President Bongbong had a meeting in Cambodia where they vowed to focus on constructive engagement and critical dialogue),” she added.
Carlos likewise questioned the sincerity of the Chinese leader to peacefully settle the territorial dispute between the two countries amid another tense confrontation in the West Philippine Sea.
“Nangyari na naman ito, paulit-ulit na lang ito, so ano ba iyon? Ano ba yung katuturan na sinabi ng liderato nila na si Xi Jinping? Wala bang laman ‘yon? (This happens again so what really is the point? What is the essence of the statement of their leadership, of Xi Jinping? Does it hold no meaning?),” she said.
She said the Philippines remains open to dialogue with China but expressed hope that Beijing would also recognize the country’s desire to forward its national interest in the disputed waters.
“Tayo naman ay (We are) not at war with this country so let’s continue to dialogue. Sana maintindihan din ng China kung saan ang ating supreme national interest. Ang supreme national interest natin at ang pagprotekta sa ating teritoryo at ang pagprotekta sa ating mga Pilipino, sa ating mga karagatan (I hope China understands where our supreme national interest lies. Our supreme national interest lies in the protection of our territory, the Filipino people, and our seas),” she added.
On Monday, the Puerto Princesa, Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom) reported that a Chinese Coast Guard ship "forcefully retrieved" an unidentified floating object being towed by a Philippine vessel in the waters off Pag-asa Island.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila, however, denied forcibly taking the floating object, saying it was acquired after a “friendly consultation” with the Philippine side.
The confrontation occurred as US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the Philippines on Sunday to engage in talks to strengthen ties with the Philippines, its treaty ally.
Harris, whose three-day trip includes a stop in Palawan, will also reaffirm US support for a 2016 international tribunal ruling that invalidated China’s claims in the highly-contested sea.
China, the Philippines, and several other littoral states have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
In a 2016 arbitral ruling, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing's nine-dash line, a demarcation that covers almost 80 percent of the South China Sea, is illegal. (PNA)