Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Monday ordered the filing of another diplomatic protest over the repeated passage of Chinese warships through Philippine waters without permission or notice.
“Fire diplomatic protest over Chinese warship; drop the diplomatic crap; say it is ours period; they’re trespassing. If we did it already fire another,” Locsin said in a tweet to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs.
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“We won’t run out and don’t wait for formal intel. This is the secretary of National Defense, no less. Fire at will,” Locsin added.
Locsin’s move came after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed recent incursions by Chinese warships into Philippine waters without informing the authorities while with their identification systems turned off.
Lorenzana cited a report from the Western Mindanao Command that Chinese warships sailed through the Sibutu Strait at least three more times in August. Two incursions by Chinese vessels were also reported in July.
Early this month, the DFA fired off a diplomatic protest over Chinese vessels sighted within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
In a hearing of the Senate foreign affairs committee, Locsin confirmed the filing of yet another protest against China.
In the same hearing, Locsin agreed to reveal to the Senate China’s responses to the many diplomatic protests the Philippines has filed against Beijing.
“Let me ask my department. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine,” Locsin said after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked him if he could share the information with the panel and the public.
“I don’t know about the public, [but] definitely with the committee,” he said. “And it will be done.”
The Palace on Monday said China should inform the government if its ships pass through Philippine waters because that is required by international law and is an act of friendship.
The matter is an issue for President Rodrigo Duterte, who is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
China and the Philippines were both signatories to United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea which allows innocent passage of ships through the territorial sea of a coastal state as long as it will be “continuous and expeditious.”
“It is an issue with the Office of the President given that we need to be informed in advance of any passage on our territory because that is what the UNCLOS says,” Panelo said.
At least five Chinese warships have recently passed into Philippine waters through the Sibutu Strait near Tawi-Tawi, the Western Mindanao Command reported.
So far, 13 Chinese People’s Liberation Army vessels have recently entered the country, the government says.
Earlier in the day, Panelo said the President would raise the increasing presence of Beijing’s ships in Manila’s waters, as among “irritants” in the two countries’ relations when the chief executive flies to China later this month.
Panelo could not say whether the President will raise the issue to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
But he said Duterte has three talking points so far, including the 2016 arbitral ruling, a 60-40 joint oil exploration with China, and the code of conduct in the disputed waters.
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