Malacañang and the military on Thursday revealed concern over the current passage of 5 Chinese warships in Philippine waters, with the Palace saying it was not a friendly act.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo stated the entry of the vessels was an infraction of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said the five Chinese warships were found in July and August in Sibutu Strait, an internationally recognized shipping lane south of Tawi-Tawi, without informing the country’s authorities.
” We reveal issue with that sort of occurrence since if they keep saying that we are pals, I don’t think this is an act of friendship,” Panelo told press reporters in a news conference.
He said the entry of Chinese warships was an offense of the Unclos, which just permits innocent passage of ships through the territorial sea of a seaside state provided that it will be “constant and expeditious.”
The Philippines requires foreign navies to inform the presence of their warships in territorial waters.
” It need to be a subject of issue between the 2 countries. Kailangan siguro, tingnan natin basta may infraction sa Unclos (Perhaps we need to make sure that when there is an offense), we will file a diplomatic protest,” Panelo stated.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. filed a diplomatic protest over the swarming of Chinese vessels around Philippine-occupied Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.
Panelo, nevertheless, said it would be up to President Rodrigo Duterte if he would bring the matter up in his bilateral conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping later on this month.
” Our position is really clear: We appreciate the Unclos pati nga ‘yung (consisting of the) Code of Conduct of the Sea,” he included. “The reason, to name a few, that he desires to go to China is he wishes to hasten the enactment of a code of conduct.”
Duterte had promised to lastly raise with Xi the judgment of a UN-backed tribunal that revoked China’s claims in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also on Thursday bristled over the unlawful passage of the Chinese warships, likening the Philippines to a “trespassed house.”
Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the current invasion oby the Chinese warships was being thought about by the military as a security hazard.
” It is a security risk that we require to deal with and we need to deal with,” he stated.
” It could be thought about, in a sense, trespassing, since it resembles a backyard of our home. Prior to our next-door neighbors go through, whether it is innocently passing through, there should be at least an authorization, right?” Arevalo said.
” That is the exact same requirement that we ask from [China], that they acquire diplomatic clearance very first [before passing through],” he added, keeping in mind that without authorization, the passage of Chinese ships was a case of incursion.
Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna said the department had been coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) about the matter.
” If it is proven that the Chinese breached global or Philippine laws, or any maritime protocols, then the DFA can submit the suitable diplomatic protest,” Luna said.
With a reports from DEMPSEY REYES