An official of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) asserted on Saturday that China lacks the authority to carry out any law enforcement operations within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya made this statement after the China Coast Guard (CCG) claimed that they were conducting law enforcement operations in Ayungin Shoal on Friday, when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were conducting a rotation and reprovisioning mission in the area.

“The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea wishes to emphasize that China has no authority or power to conduct law enforcement operations in our exclusive economic zone,” Malaya said in a news forum.

He added that only the PCG and the AFP have the sovereign right and responsibility to conduct law enforcement operations in the West Philippine Sea, as it is within the country’s EEZ.

Malaya also condemned the “illegal, aggressive, and destabilizing” conduct of the CCG and the Chinese maritime militia (CMM), which harassed and threatened the Filipino troops during their mission.

He said that such actions violate the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its EEZ and rejected China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

Malaya said that the NTF-WPS will forward detailed reports of the incidents to higher authorities, which may lead to the filing of diplomatic protests against China.

He also reiterated President Marcos’ call for ASEAN to take action on the continued use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels by China in the disputed waters, which he said poses a threat to regional peace and stability.