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PH to take all appropriate measures to protect sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal - DFA
PH to take all appropriate measures to protect sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal - DFA
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PH to take all appropriate measures to protect sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal - DFA
by Karen Ow-Yong25 September 2023
Photo Courtesy: Jay Tarriela / X

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is ready to take all appropriate measures to protect the country’s sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal after Chinese vessels installed floating barriers to block Filipino fishermen from accessing the area.

In a statement released by the DFA, it said that the shoal, locally known as Bajo de Masinloc, “is an integral part of the Philippines over which we have sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction according to UNCLOS.”

It added that “the 2016 Arbitral Award affirms it as a traditional fishing ground of Filipino fisherfolk” and that China’s reported installation of barriers and its negative impact on the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk or any other activity that infringes upon the Philippines’ jurisdiction in Bajo de Masinloc are violations of international law, particularly UNCLOS and the Arbitral Award.”

DZRH reached out to the Embassy of China in Manila for comment but has not received any reply.

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According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) official website, “the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNLCOS) was adopted in 1982. It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.

“It embodies in one instrument traditional rules for the uses of the oceans and at the same time introduces new legal concepts and regimes and addresses new concerns. The Convention also provides the framework for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea,” IMO added.

UNCLOS extends the territorial jurisdiction of maritime states up to 200 nautical miles from its coasts and is signed by at least 162 nations including the Philippines and China.

Earlier, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the 300-meter floating barrier was placed along Scarborough on Friday by three Chinese Coast Guard rigid hull inflatable boats and a Chinese maritime militia service boat upon arrival of the personnel from the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the vicinity of the shoal.

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Although the shoal is claimed by the Philippines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in 2016 that no country can claim sovereign rights over Scarborough, saying it is a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.

China refused to recognize the ruling, saying it is within its territory.

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