Locsin tells China to 'expect the worst' if drills, missiles enter Philippine EEZ

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. had a stern warning to China after it reportedly fired missiles in the South China Sea.

News reports said China fired an "aircraft-carrier killer" into the disputed waters this week, which is said to be a warning for the United States to stay away. Earlier this week, Beijing accused Washington of sending a U-2 spy plane over a "no-fly zone" to disrupt China's military exercises as tensions rise.

Locsin said he immediately checked the map to verify the area where China was holding its drills and found that the exercises were "not taking place within the coordinates of our territory."

"It was interesting to watch. However, I warned — and this kind of irritated Beijing — should those naval exercises spill into my territory, then they must expect the worst," Locsin told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The country's top diplomat said he is not ruling out options on how to go against China's incursions in disputed waters, but said he is "not afraid of any eventuality."

President Rodrigo Duterte has said it's best to shelve the territorial row as he focuses on warmer ties with Beijing, adding that the country cannot afford to go to war with China to assert the 2016 ruling of a Permanent Court of Arbitration-backed tribunal. The Hague tribunal invalidated Beijing’s sweeping territorial stakes in the South China Sea and recognized Manila’s sovereign rights within its exclusive economic zone which China claims.

The DFA has resorted to filing diplomatic protests whenever it finds China taking aggressive steps in the West Philippine Sea, the most recent of which involved the Chinese Coast Guard’s confiscation of Filipino fishermen’s fish aggregating devices or payaos in Scarborough, a shoal west of Zambales which is being claimed by both Manila and Beijing.

READ: China hits back at PH after diplomatic protest: Stop illegal provocations

If push comes to shove, Locsin said the Philippines can count on the US to defend the Philippines, citing the decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty.

"When it says it will come to the defense of the Philippines... we (US) will throw all our weaponry at the enemy," he added, citing his good ties with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"An attack on the US will give them all our might. Everything we have — you may laugh at our ability but we will... Any attack on us, I believe the US will, at the sake of its prestige, (defend us)."

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Locsin insisted that Manila should continue its patrols over the country's exclusive economic zone.

The Cabinet official pointed out that the US is unlikely to shirk its duties to defend the Philippines as its credibility as a global power relies on its ability to fulfill its commitments to other nations.