PH has sovereign rights over Julian Felipe Reef – Panelo

A Palace official on Monday asserted the country’s sovereign rights over the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea, where dozens of Chinese vessels massed for weeks.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo stressed that it is “indisputable” that the Julian Felipe Reef, located approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan, is within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and pursuant to the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“Our country has sovereign rights over the subject area and intrusion thereof is deemed an intrusive and unacceptable act on those rights,” Panelo said.

The latest aerial surveillance showed that there are still 44 Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef.

The Chinese Embassy this week said it is normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish and take shelter near the reef in the disputed waters, Beijing claims to be part of Nansha Island.