06 May 2024, 13:11

Philippines won't use water cannon on Chinese ships: Marcos

MANILA, May 6, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - President Ferdinand Marcos said Monday the Philippines would not respond in kind to China's deployment of water cannon against its vessels, ruling out the use of "offensive" equipment as Manila asserts its sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea.

Beijing has dispatched hundreds of coast guard and other vessels to press its claims over most of the vital waterway despite an international tribunal ruling that its assertion has no legal basis.

In the latest confrontation on April 30, Manila said the China Coast Guard damaged a Philippine Coast Guard ship and another government vessel with high-pressure water cannon as the boats were bringing fuel, food and water to Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal.

"We will not follow the Chinese coast guard and the Chinese vessels down that road," Marcos said Monday when asked if Manila would start using the water cannons on its own coast guard vessels to retaliate.

"It's not the mission of our navy, our coast guard to start or to increase tensions... We have no intention of attacking anyone with water cannons or any other such offensive (equipment)."

Marcos added that "the last thing" the Philippines wanted was "to raise the tensions" in the disputed waters.

A Philippine Coast Guard spokesman said Wednesday that Manila's strategy was to expose and seek international condemnation of Beijing's behaviour in the South China Sea to encourage united efforts to ensure freedom of navigation in the strategic waterway.

Marcos said the Philippines would continue responding to South China Sea incidents through diplomatic means.

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 Scarborough Shoal.

Manila and Washington have a mutual defence treaty, and the recent confrontations between Philippine and Chinese vessels have fuelled speculation as to what might force the United States to intervene.

Marcos said last month that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had given assurances that the treaty would be invoked if another "foreign power" killed a Filipino soldier.


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