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Won’t get intimidated: Philippines President on growing Chinese aggression in South China Sea

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Photo: Youtube//IISS)

Amid China’s growing aggression, Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has said that the nation would not be intimidated by Beijing’s expansionist acts, Al Jazeera reported.

His remarks came at the headquarters of Philippine South China Sea forces at Palawan island.

According to the Philippine President “In defending the nation, we stay true to our Filipino nature that we would like to settle all these issues peacefully.”

During the visit to the headquarters, Marcos awarded medals to 80 sailors who took part in the resupply mission, and urged the sailors to continue defending their nation despite the situation being “dangerous”.

Quoting Marcos as saying, Al Jazeera reported that the Philippines will continue to exercise its freedom.

“We will never be intimidated or oppressed by anyone. Continue to exercise our freedoms and rights in support of our national interest, in accordance with international law,” Marcos said.

The statement came as a response towards the recent incident of a violent clash between Chinese and Philippine sailors near the Second Thomas Shoal about 200 km away from Palawan island.

During that incident, the Chinese forces injured Filipino navy personnel and damaged at least two military boats in the South China Sea.

Additionally, the Filipino sailors also accused Chinese coastguards of stealing and damaging their equipment, the Al Jazeera report claimed.

Previously, the Philippines News Agency (PNA) had reported that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had rejected China’s allegation that a Philippines ship illegally entered its waters and collided with one of its coast guard vessels, terming it “deceptive and misleading of the China Coast Guard.

In a message to reporters, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad stated, “The AFP will not discuss operational details on the legal humanitarian rotation and resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal, which is well within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone).” Trinidad added, “We will not dignify the deceptive and misleading claims of the China Coast Guard (CCG),” PNA reported.

The AFP official stressed that the presence and actions of Chinese vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that infringe on Manila’s sovereignty and sovereign rights remain the main issue.

Trinidad said that the China Coast Guard’s continued aggressive actions escalated tensions in the region, according to PNA

The statement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines came after the China Coast Guard (CCG) claimed that a Philippine replenishment ship illegally entered waters near Ren’ai Reef (Chinese name of Ayungin Shoal) on Monday last week, forcing them to take appropriate actions.

Notably, Ayungin Shoal is a submerged reef in the Spratlys Islands in the South China Sea (SCS). The BRP Sierra Madre, which is considered an outpost of the Philippine Navy, has been grounded in Ayungin since 1999.