'None of our business'? Locsin files protest after 'reflection'

'None of our business'? Locsin files protest after 'reflection'

MANILA, Philippines — After saying that China’s approval of a law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign ships in Chinese-claimed waters was “none of our business,” Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. changed his mind on Wednesday and “fired” a diplomatic protest over the legislation.

“After reflection I fired a diplomatic protest. While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one—given the area involved or for that matter the open South China Sea—is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law; which, if unchallenged, is submission to it,” Locsin said in a Twitter post.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including waters within the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines (the West Philippine Sea), Vietnam and Taiwan.

Historic win

In July 2016, the Philippines scored a historic win against China in the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, which invalidated China’s extensive claim.

Beijing refuses to recognize the ruling.

On Monday, Locsin said criticizing China for passing the law was “none of our business.”

“[I]t is China’s business what laws it passes; so please a little self-restraint,” he said.

‘Very negative’

He was reacting to Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ statement calling the law passed by the New People’s Congress in Beijing a “very negative” development in the South China Sea.

He even likened China’s approval of the coast guard law to steps that the Philippine government took to defend its sovereignty.

“I devised a visa rubber stamp that stamps most of the South China Sea and parts of North Borneo as our national territory and no one has complained,” he said. —TINA G. SANTOS