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Philippines urges international response to Chinese 'attack'

Water cannons drove fishermen out of disputed territory reporter, Manila

February 25, 2014

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The Philippines military today appealed for "international response and condemnation" over China’s use of water cannons to drive away Filipino fishermen from the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

Military spokesman Lt Col Ramon Zagala said China should be condemned by the international community for attacking civilians who are only making a living from fishing.

"The Filipino fishermen are in the area for their livelihood. They are supposed to enjoy freedom of navigation in these waters," Zagala said during a press briefing at the military headquarters in Manila.

"The international community can now be aware of what is the real situation there, that it really merits an international response and condemnation," he said.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen Emmanuel Bautista yesterday reported that Chinese Coast Guard vessels fired water cannons on Filipino fishing vessels in Scarborough Shoal on January 27.

China gained control over the shoal, which is within the Philippines' 200-mile exclusive economic zone, following a standoff with Philippine vessels in April 2012. China has since stationed two Coast Guard ships in the area.

The Philippines has filed a complaint against China before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea over China's actions.

China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei are currently locked in a territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands, while China and the Philippines are also disputing control over Scarborough Shoal.

Zagala said China’s use of water cannons against the Filipino fishermen was “really alarming”. He said, however, that the action “does not merit a military response”.

"We have to always [ensure] that we do not escalate the already volatile situation in the area," said Zagala, adding that the Philippines is using "rules-based international tribunal arbitration".

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