Beijing may have ordered its navy not to stray into Philippine waters after the recent string of sightings of Chinese warships passing unannounced through the Sibutu Strait triggered a series of protests from Manila
, a ranking military official said Sunday.
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“I think there’s been guidance from the national leadership of China to their navy not to immerse themselves in our territory without our permission or advance information,” said Lt. Col. Cirilito Sobejana.
For the last few months, Chinese vessels have intruded into Philippine waters without seeking permission or even advise.
Nearly a dozen of Chinese warships since February have been sighted. The most recent was in August, when five warships were seen in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi and in Balabac, Palawan.
Sobejana said there would be no problem if the Chinese followed international rules of the sea, including leaving their automatic identification systems on—something the Chinese vessels have not done.
He said the act of turning off their AIS suggested the Chinese had intentions other than simply passing through.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza said the Philippine government has actually been doing something to enforce the 2016 arbitral ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea dispute through diplomacy.
“For now, the Philippines, with restraint, has chosen to enforce the arbitral award through diplomacy. This, of course, is a classic and recognized mode by which a state, through diplomatic action, could invoke redress, for itself or on behalf of its citizens, for injury caused by a wrongful act on another state,” Jardeleza said in a speech during the Asian Society of International Law 7th Biennial Conference in Novotel, Quezon City on Friday.
As part of its diplomatic tack to enforce the arbitral award, the magistrate added, the Philippines has pushed, through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, for the early conclusion of an agreement on a Code of Conduct among the different ASEAN states and China.
He also noted that Manila has embarked on a path of bilateral diplomacy with China, which until now still refuses to recognize the arbitral award. With Rey E. Requejo
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