Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after it challenged a Chinese research vessel’s incursion into the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“I am proud of our Armed Forces for challenging Chinese encroachment into our territories. This move tells the world that the Philippines will defy any nation that violates the international rules-based order. Boundaries have been set; China must now respect these boundaries,” the senator said.

Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, AFP’s Northern Luzon Command chief and commander of the Area Task Force of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, recently announced that the military was able to drive away research vessel “Jiageng.”

The vessel was spotted 59 nautical miles northwest of Calayan island group in Cagayan last September. That same month, it was also seen only 50 nautical miles off Ilocos Norte. The Department of Foreign Affairs is preparing to file a diplomatic protest against China following this latest intrusion.

“Commendations are in order for our military officials. Kitang-kita ang puso at diwa ng kanilang pagkaPilipino sa pagtindig nila laban sa Chinese vessel na ito. Klarong klaro din ang mensaheng ipinahatid nila: Atin ang Pinas,” the senator said.

Hontiveros, however, said that China is not slowing down on its adventurism in the region, citing Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative’s report stating that compared to 2019, there was an 80% increase in the presence of Chinese Coast Guards in Scarborough Shoal this year.

The senator previously called on the Executive to craft and implement a clear diplomatic and military strategic framework against China’s provocations, after a diplomatic protest over the illegal confiscation of Filipino fisherfolks’ devices by the Chinese Coast Guard in Bajo de Masinloc.

“China must, once and for all, recognize and honor the 2016 arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in our maritime dispute. Kung patuloy niyang isasawalang bahala ang ruling, patuloy lang din siyang mananalakay sa karagatang hindi naman kanya,” the senator said.

“It is getting more and more infuriating to learn of China’s continued incursions in our region. Respeto naman sana. Mapapanatili natin ang kapayapaan kapag may pagkilala at may respeto tayo sa soberanya at teritoryo ng isa’t isa.”