PH to take action to remove floating barriers installed by China in Bajo de Masinloc

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said the Philippines would take "all appropriate actions" to remove the floating barriers installed by the Chinese Coast Guard in Bajo de Masinloc.

"The placement by the People's Republic of China of a barrier violates the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen whose rights to have been affirmed by the 2016 Arbitral ruling," Año said in a statement, adding they condemned the act.

"It ruled categorically that such action by the PRC (People's Republic of China) violated the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen in the shoal who have been fishing there for centuries. Any State that prevents them from doing artisanal fishing there violates UNCLOS and international law, in general," he added.

CNN Philippines has reached out to Año to ask what specific actions the country would take, but he has not replied as of publishing.

Año also said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is always kept informed on all developments in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also stressed the country has sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction over Bajo de Masinloc according to UNCLOS.

"The 2016 Arbitral Award affirms it as a traditional fishing ground of Filipino fisherfolk," the DFA said in a separate statement.

The agency said the installation of the floating barrier negatively impacts the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk and such is a violation of international law, particularly UNCLOS and the Arbitral Award.

On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said a 300-meter long floating barrier was installed in the southeast portion of the shoal, preventing Philippine fishing boats from entering the area.

In a press briefing, Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela stressed that the floating barrier is a “navigational hazard.”

At the briefing, Tarriela said they would leave it to concerned government agencies to determine what legal or diplomatic action would be necessary.

"On the part of the PCG, we are here to patrol and produce evidence and report it to the NTF-WPS (National Task Force-West Philippine Sea). It's for concerned agencies to do their own respective responsibilities," he said.

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Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the Philippines could remove the floating barriers in Bajo de Masinloc.

“It is within our exclusive economic zone that we will just declare it to be such then it’s a violation to our right to exclusive economic zone and we can remove the same,” Remulla pointed out at a briefing on Monday.

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He explained that what China did was “interfering with something that was granted to us in accordance to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," adding the removal of the barriers will be a civilian undertaking under the Philippine Coast Guard.

“We will not make it a military undertaking but a civilian undertaking,” he says.

Remulla also clarified it was his personal legal view and they have to agree within the Executive branch on how to treat the incident.

He noted he would meet this week with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Coast Guard, and the Office of the Solicitor General to talk about the possible filing of cases against China.

RELATED: OSG to look into WPS incidents after 2016 arbitral award to establish solid case vs. China

This stems from China’s alleged massive coral harvesting in the West Philippine Sea.

CNN Philippines’ Anjo Alimario and Pia Garcia contributed to this report.