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Monday, June 24, 2024

Congress leaders denounce China’s order to arrest foreigners in South China Sea

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Congress leaders have denounced China’s order to arrest foreign nationals in the South China Sea, which covers the West Philippine Sea and parts of the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

“There will be a problem. Allies and claimants will react. I think there will be complications here in the whole setup,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said, warning of a “deterioration of peace and order” in the area.

“China’s aggressive pronouncements are a blatant escalation of tensions in the West Philippine Sea. These unilateral actions flagrantly violate international law and the established norms that guide the Philippines and other law-abiding nations with claims in the South China Sea,” House Speaker Martin Romualdez said.

In a report published by the South China Morning Post on Thursday, the China Coast Guard said a new regulation has been issued that authorizes the arrest of “foreigners” in the disputed maritime territories, including the South China Sea, beginning June.

“Foreigners suspected of illegally passing China’s borders can be held for up to 60 days,” the newspaper reported.

Romualdez said China must respect international rulings and act as a responsible member of the global community, rather than imposing its own laws unilaterally and bullying other nations.

“The House of the Filipino People will not tolerate any arrests of our citizens or fishermen within our own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We will fiercely defend our sovereignty and ensure the safety and rights of our people,” he said.

Zubiri said China’s new threats are clear violations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), particularly on the freedom of navigation.

“And it is very clear that these areas — West Philippine Sea, South China Sea — these are ‘freedom of navigation lanes,’ in which anybody can freely navigate, even Vietnamese, Malaysians, or Filipinos — they can pass through it without restrictions. That’s very clear under UNCLOS,” he said.

The Senate leader urged the Marcos administration to take up the issue before the United Nations Security Council or the UN General Assembly.

“If the illegal detention of our people happens, we can file a formal complaint and protest,” he said.

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