MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned of consequences should foreign ships pass through the Philippines’ territorial waters without securing a clearance from the government.
“To avoid misunderstanding in the future, the President is putting on notice that beginning today, all foreign vessels passing our territorial waters must notify and get clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of the actual passage,” said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Tuesday, August 20.
“Either we get compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner,” he added, without elaboration.
Duterte’s warning comes after a string of reports of Chinese warships and survey ships passing through areas like the Sibutu Strait
The Philippine military had earlier reported that 5 Chinese warships passed through Sibutu Strait in July and August without notifying the Philippine government.
On July 25, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the military reported 4 instances of Chinese naval vessels traversing the Sibutu Strait in the waters of Tawi-Tawi province since February.
On August 6, the AFP Western Command (Wescom) said 4 Chinese warships passed through the waters near Balabac Island in Palawan province on June 17 without permission, and virtually ignored radio communications from Philippine patrols.
In response, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has issued a series of diplomatic protests.
In around a week, Duterte is set to visit China for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during which the Palace says he will bring up the 2016 Hague ruling and recent flashpoints between China and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte has also called for the speedy completion of a South China Sea code of conduct to avoid maritime incidents and confrontations. – Rappler.com