A SENATOR on Thursday asked the government to come up with a more effective strategy to counter China’s increasing presence in the South China Sea, noting that diplomatic protests have done nothing.
“It’s embarrassing that we’re being ignored,” Senator María Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos said in mixed English and Filipino at a hearing. “I have a guess that this is what we hate as Asians, it’s counter-cultural. Of all the things we dislike, it’s really being shamed.”
Ms. Marcos, who heads the Senate foreign relations committee, said she understood that the diplomatic protests might be needed for record purposes. “That being the case, is there a better way of doing this that is less confrontational and less anti-culturally Asian?”
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Angela A. Ponce told the hearing that as of Aug. 31, the Philippines had filed 172 protests against China, 48 of which were made under the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, the senator’s brother.
Two protest notes were also sent to Vietnam this year.
Ms. Ponce said the protests covered the illegal presence of foreign fishing and maritime militia vessels, illegal fishing, harassment of fishermen and enforcement agencies, and unauthorized marine scientific research.
“The protests are an assertion of our rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and under the arbitral award,” she said, referring to the 2016 United Nations-backed court ruling that voided China’s claim to more than 80% of the South China Sea.
“By asserting our rights, we are ensuring that we do not lose them.”
Ms. Marcos was not convinced. “They did not seem to have improved the situation in the West Philippine Sea,” she added, referring to areas of the sea within the Philippines exclusive economic zone. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan