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Philippines’ President Marcos Jr. Stands Firm on Removing Chinese Barriers in South China Sea

The Philippines remains resolute in its decision to remove China’s barriers in the South China Sea, asserting its commitment to defending its territorial integrity. This move has led to diplomatic protests from Beijing and reignited a longstanding dispute centered around the Scarborough Shoal.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. emphasized that China cannot establish barriers in an area unequivocally situated within the Philippines’ jurisdiction. He clarified that the Philippines seeks to protect its sovereignty without seeking confrontations.

The Scarborough Shoal is among several reefs and outcrops in the South China Sea that are contested by both the Philippines and China. China’s coast guard has maintained a continuous presence in the area since a naval standoff in 2012, resulting in recurring tensions over Filipino fishing activities.

China’s foreign ministry asserted that the line of buoys was placed after a Philippine vessel entered the shoal “illegally” and stated that it retrieved the buoys on Saturday. In contrast, Manila’s Coast Guard members conducted a “special operation” to remove the buoys on Wednesday, as depicted in visual evidence of divers cutting the underwater line.

President Marcos disclosed that the removal of the buoys has enabled Filipino fishermen to catch 164 tonnes of fish in a single day. The Philippines reaffirmed its commitment to defending its maritime territory and the rights of its fishermen, who have relied on these waters for generations.

Emphasizing a preference for diplomatic solutions, President Marcos conveyed the Philippines’ strong resolve to safeguard its territory. He underscored the nation’s avoidance of confrontational rhetoric while expressing its determination to protect its sovereign rights.

The United States, which has strengthened ties with the Philippines this year, praised the Philippines’ action as a “bold step in defending their own sovereignty.” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford commended the Philippines during a congressional hearing and reiterated Washington’s commitment to its security partnership with its Asian ally.