PH files diplomatic protest vs China anew

Posted at 06/13/2014 9:00 PM | Updated as of 06/13/2014 9:42 PM

MANILA -- The Philippines lodged another diplomatic protest against China's reclamation in Kennan Reef (Hughes Reef) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

In a press briefing, Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the protest was filed last week, after the government confirmed that China has been carrying out land reclamation activities in Kennan Reef.

On April 4, the Philippines protested China's reclamation on Mabini Reef, but China rejected the protest.

President Aquino had also raised China's reclamation on Mabini Reef during the ASEAN Summit in Myanmar last month.

On March 30, the Philippines submitted a 4,000-page memorial detailing its arguments and evidence against China’s nine-dash line and other aspects of Beijing’s expansive and excessive claims in the West Philippine Sea to an arbitral tribunal at The Hague.
 
The arbitration case was filed based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to clarify the country’s maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.

After it was revealed that China is reclaiming land on Mabini Reef, Aquino also said that Chinese ships were also spotted in the Cuarteron (Calderon) Reef and Gaven (Burgos) Reef.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario also said that the government will file a protest against China once reports of movements by Chinese ships and reclamation in these areas are verified.

China’s ongoing land reclamation in five reefs -- the Johnson South (Mabini) Reef, Cuarteron (Calderon) Reef, Hughes (Kennan) Reef, Gaven (Burgos) Reef and Eldad (Malvar) Reef in the West Philippine Sea -- is widely seen by the Philippine government as preparation for more land reclamation operations.

DFA explained that China's reclamation of Mabini Reef changes its features, and may affect the Philippines' case against China.

Under the UNCLOS, maritime features like rocks and reefs are entitled to 12 nautical miles of territorial sea without an exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
 
This maritime entitlement may be changed if the Mabini Reef's character - from being a rock into an island - is altered.