Chinese militia vessels recently sighted in West Philippine Sea — DND

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 21) — Chinese militia vessels were recently sighted in the contested West Philippine Sea, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Thursday.

“They have been there for quite some time; I don’t have the exact number right now... Right now, we have sightings of some particularly Chinese militia vessels and some of the Chinese Coast Guards in the contested areas,” DND Officer-in-Charge Jose Faustino, Jr. said in a press briefing.

“We coordinate with the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea on how to address these incursions,” he added.

An international arbitral tribunal in The Hague affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the disputed waters of the South China Sea in 2016, but the Chinese government has consistently refused to recognize the ruling.

Faustino said he has not yet received any instructions from President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on how to deal with incursions of Chinese vessels in the disputed waters.

“When it comes to Chinese incursions, direct orders from the president on how to deal with it, we don’t have any direct instructions from him, but I'm being guided by his pronouncements,” said Faustino.

“Our sovereignty is inviolable and we have to protect our territorial integrity so that’s it, from those lines of the President, we will toe the line kung ano yung kanyang mga statement regarding the West Philippine Sea (we will toe the line on whatever will be his statement regarding the West Philippine Sea).”

Marcos earlier said that he would talk to China "consistently with a firm voice" about the two countries' territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

However, Marcos said that going to war against China was not an option, echoing the stance of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.