The Philippine government is not discounting the possibility of expelling a diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in Manila in connection with the ongoing impasse at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
This, after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) denounced the Chinese Embassy’s attempt to impugn Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana by calling the latter’s statement demanding the Chinese vessels at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea “unprofessional.”
“Normally, this is part of the range of diplomatic courses of actions, but I have no confirmation yet,” DFA Executive Director Ivy Banzon-Abalos said in a message sent to reporters Monday night.
In a strongly-worded statement on Monday, the DFA reminded the Chinese Embassy that they are “guests” of the Philippine government and “must at all times observe protocol and accord respect to Philippine officials.”
In a statement on Saturday, the Embassy called as unprofessional the statement of Lorenzana demanding the remaining Chinese vessels to immediately leave the Julian Felipe Reef after lingering in the area for almost a month.
The Chinese Embassy also described Lorenzana’s statement as “perplexing” even claiming that Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Nasha Islands (Spratly) under the jurisdiction of Hainan province.
On Monday, the DFA denounced what it called “blatant falsehoods” being peddled by the Chinese Embassy as well as its attempt to promote “false narratives” of its expansive and illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea.
“Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and lies in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of the Philippines. It is located 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza town in Palawan and 638,229 nautical miles from Hainan Island,” the DFA stressed.
Further, the foreign affairs office reiterated the demands made by Lorenzana for China to immediately withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in and around Julian Felipe Reef and warned that the Philippines will continue to file diplomatic protests for every day of delay and refusal of Chinese vessels to leave. (MB)