Chinese vessels continue to swarm Philippine waters in the disputed South China Sea despite the Philippines having filed over 100 protests against China's sea incursions this year, according to officials.
Of those, 48 protests were filed under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office on June 30. His predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, filed 388 diplomatic protests against China over his six-year term as president.
Sen. Imee Marcos, sister of the president, questioned the effectiveness of filing hundreds of protests against China.
Philippine Seeks to Bolster Maritime CapabilitiesDefense Undersecretary Angelito de Leon said in the same meeting that "swarming incidents" persist in Philippine waters despite the protests, prompting the national coast guard to bolster maritime domain awareness and patrols.
"The current situation in the West Philippine Sea remains to be worth looking into because there are certain concerns on security," De Leon told the senate committee.
De Leon said the Philippine coast guard aims to increase its capabilities by leveraging alliances with the nation's allies and partners to conduct joint drills and acquire additional monitoring equipment and ships.
"We have limitations. We do not want to escalate the issue and go into a full-blown military confrontation because of the disproportionate use of force," he said.
Beijing claims much of the South China Sea as its own under its so-called "nine-dash line." The Hague Tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016. But the ruling has not impacted the Chinese regime's behavior, with Chinese vessels repeatedly intruding into the Philippines' territorial zones.
"We will not allow a single square, and maybe make it even more smaller, single square millimeter of our maritime coastal and up to 200 kilometers rights to be trampled upon," he said on May 26.