‘I just interpret actions and respond accordingly’: Teddy Locsin stands by diplomatic protests vs China

April 29, 2020 - 5:00 PM
Teddy Locsin Jr.
Philippines' Secretary for Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. (Reuters/Piroschka van de Wouw, file)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Tuesday stressed that he just responded accordingly when he filed the two diplomatic protests against China last week over alleged harassment at the West Philippine Sea.

In another tweet last April 22, Locsin said that the formal communications were for two activities that violate international laws—the radar gun pointing of a Chinese warship toward a Philippine Navy ship last February and China’s declaration of two districts in the West Philippine Sea as part of Hainan province.   

Meanwhile, Locsin’s tweet clarifying the protests against China was his reaction to a report on Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s response to the Chinese firing of a radar gun to the Philippine ship, wherein the latter considered the move to be not intentionally harmful.   

“As the country’s chief diplomat, I don’t do mind reading; I just interpret actions & respond accordingly. I won’t tolerate anyone pointing at me or my countrymen unless they’re admirers; then I expect the pointing to be accompanied by a shower of petals,” Locsin tweeted on April 28.  

In another tweet, Locsin reiterated his decision when he filed the diplomatic protests and warned China against pointing anything again at Philippine ships in the future.  

Well we passed the test; I slapped them back. Don’t even dream of pointing anything at my country,” Locsin said.  

Wanna point then fire away. Let’s see where that takes us. But never ever point anything at my country unless you’re looking for a fight. I know my soldiers,” he added.  

China claims all the disputed areas of the South China Sea and refused to acknowledge the landmark ruling at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands in July 2016 in favor of the Philippines 

‘No intention to harm but still offensive’

According to the Armed Forces’ Western Command, last February 17, the Philippine vessel BRP Conrado Yap (PS39) was on its way to Rizal Reef Detachment in the West Philippine Sea when it detected a radar contact of a gray colored vessel.” 

The PS39 identified that the other ship came from China called PLAN Vessel and observed its gun control director was directed at them.  

WesCom defined the gun control director as an equipment that “can be used to designate and track targets and makes all the main guns ready to fire in under a second.” 

Pointing it toward the Philippine watercraft was therefore seen as hostile in nature.  

“While PS39 does not have the electronic support measures to confirm that PLAN Gun Control Director was directed towards her, visual identification confirms this hostile intent,” the WesCom said. 

Despite these circumstances, Lorenzana told reporters during a virtual “Laging Handa” press briefing” on Tuesday that China may not intend to harm PS39 in the first place.  

Itong latest na radar gun eh ‘di naman siguro nila gustong saktan or harm our… parang ano lang ito sinusubukan lang nila kung ano ang reaction natin,” Lorenzana said. 

The Chinese vessels may just be challenging the Philippine vessels, he said.

“Sabi ko naman sa ating Navy at Air Force, hindi naman siguro nila papaputukan ng missiles ‘yung ating mga barko at eroplano. Ito lang ay katulad ng kanilang ginagawa tuwing tayo ay dadaan diyan sa West Philippine Sea within our EEZ at tsina-challenge tayo na ang sabi eh ‘You are traversing Chinese territory,'” Lorenzana said. 

However, he admitted that pointing a radar gun was offensive.  

“It’s offensive also bakit kailangan nilang itutok ‘yung kanilang acquisition radars sa ating eroplano o barko,” Lorenzana said. 

Disappointed but not surprised 

Several Filipinos expressed disappointment over the defense chief’s remarks, saying that the radar gun incident was an obvious provocation from China.  

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Twitter user @keanciprialmo also noted that foreign ships are already bullying Filipinos in their own territory.  

We are being bullied sa sarili nating lugar tapos “medyo offensive” lang masasabi mo,” the user said.  

Aside from the event involving the gun equipment, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs also established two areas within the country’s 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone as districts part of its Sansha City in Hainan province.  

China also previously established research stations in Spratlys and allowed to conduct mining operations in Homonhon Island while the country deals with the COVID-19 crisis.