Philippines says won’t raise South China Sea tensions, won’t use water cannons

May 6, 2024 - 12:26 PM
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Second Thomas Shoal
Chinese Coast Guard vessels fire water cannons towards a Philippine resupply vessel Unaizah May 4 on its way to a resupply mission at Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, March 5, 2024. (Reuters/Adrian Portugal)

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Monday the country will not use water cannons or any offensive weapons in the South China Sea.

The last thing the Philippines wants to do is to raise tensions in the strategic waterway, Marcos told reporters.

“We will not follow the Chinese coast guard and Chinese vessels down that road,” Marcos said, adding that the mission of Philippine navy and coast guard was to lower tensions, and there no plans to install water cannons on vessels.

China’s embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Manila protested Beijing’s use of water cannons against Filipino vessels at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, describing it as harassment and “dangerous maneuvers”, after a rise in tensions in recent months.

China claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

An international tribunal in 2016 said China’s expansive claim had no legal basis, a decision Beijing has rejected.

— Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by John Mair