Philippine President rules out of deploying water cannons to counter Chinese attacks in South China Sea

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Manila [Philipines]: Philippine President Bongbong Marcos on Monday ruled out installing water cannons on Philippine ships sailing through the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and said that the island nation will not respond to the Chinese attacks on Philipines marine vessels, Manila Times reported.

The President said it would prefer to continue responding to South China Sea incidents through diplomatic means while adding “the last thing” the Philippines wanted was “to raise the tensions” in the disputed waters. His statement comes in the wake of recent water cannon attacks by China on its ships in the South China Sea.

Manila Times reported citing a Philippines Coast Guard spokesperson, that Manila wants to expose China and seek international condemnation for Beijing’s actions, in the South China Sea, encouraging united efforts to ensure freedom of navigation in the strategic waterway.

“What we are doing is defending our sovereign rights and our sovereignty in the WPS and we have no intention of attacking anyone with water cannons or any such offensive (equipment),” Marcos said in a statement. Manila Times reported that China has recently dispatched hundreds of Coast Guard personnel with vessels to press its claims over the most vital waterway, even though an international tribunal had ruled that its claims over the route are illegal.

On being asked if the Philipines would initiate a confrontation using the water cannons, the President said, “We will not follow the Chinese coast guard and the Chinese vessels down that road, It’s not the mission of our navy, our coast guard to start or to increase tensions,” He also said that while the country would continue to assert its rights in the WPS, it would not use any “offensive weapon” against anyone.

Last week, Manila summoned a senior Chinese envoy to protest “the harassment, ramming, swarming, shadowing and blocking, dangerous manoeuvres, (and) use of water cannons” by China Coast Guard vessels against Philippine boats off the disputed Ayungin Shoal.

Moreover, the US and the Philippines have a mutual defence treaty, and the confrontation between the Chinese Coast Guard and PCG has sparked speculations over US intervention in case of another severe confrontation.
A senator from the island country Jinggoy Estrada also supported the decision of the president by saying that “Instead of resorting to retaliatory measures, we will assert our rights through diplomatic means. We have consistently filed diplomatic protests to address China’s aggression within our territorial waters,” the Manila Times report said.

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