'Unacceptable': DND raises concern on presence of Chinese ships in West PH Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday expressed "great concern" over the presence of Chinese vessels in parts of the West Philippine Sea, maintaining that any violation of the country's sovereign rights are unacceptable.

"The president's directive to the department is clear — we will not give up a single square inch of Philippine territory," the DND said in a statement, reacting to reports that dozens of Beijing's ships have swarmed Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal.

"Our lines remain open to dialogue. However, we maintain that activities which violate our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, and undermine the peace and stability of the region, are unacceptable," it added.

Earlier this week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines confirmed that several Chinese militia and fishing vessels remain anchored near Pag-asa Island — considered by Manila as part of Palawan province, but which the East Asian giant contests.

The DND said authorities will continue to roll out routine patrols in the contested waters. Data gathered will be submitted to relevant officials for appropriate action, the agency added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), meanwhile, said it is still awaiting official details on the matter.

"Diplomatic action will be based on these reports," the DFA told reporters.

The Philippine government has filed a slew of diplomatic protests against China amid repeated incursions in the country's waters, urging the economic superpower to comply with the landmark 2016 arbitral victory on the South China Sea case.