‘Salvo of notes verbales’ issued over Chinese presence in Pag-asa

MANILA Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said the Philippine government has served a "salvo of diplomatic notes" to China over the presence of Chinese vessels near the Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

"Before going to (a) successful China visit, I fired off salvo of diplomatic notes so I would not be accused of insincerity if, as suggested, I fired them off after the visit, which is sioki (cowardly). Instructed shot over massing of moving vessels because circling establishes nothing," he said in a tweet.

The statement comes after he was tagged and asked on Twitter to confirm if the country filed a diplomatic protest against China after more than a hundred vessels suspected to be Chinese militia were sighted near the Philippine-occupied feature in Kalayaan Island Group.

In a follow-up tweet, Locsin reiterated that he sent the notes verbales on the Chinese activity before his four-day official visit to China last month where he met with State Counselor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, his counterpart.

"I sent notes verbales versus swarming before my China trip. You have my word on it and that is all you all get," he said.

Locsin stressed that the document will not be made public.

In a recent television interview, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the diplomatic note would ask the Chinese government "what are they (vessels) doing there and why are those fishermen stationary."

Panelo, who met with Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jinhua on Monday, said the envoy recommended raising the issue during the two states' Bilateral Consultation Mechanism meetings instead.

Sabi niya (he said), we have the mechanisms, so hayaan na natin iyong mechanism (let the mechanism), iyong (the) bilateral mechanism to thresh that issue, he said. (With reports from Azer Parrocha/PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency