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.
The reported passage of the 3 Chinese warships in August came after Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua supposedly said he would tell the Chinese Navy to give notice before having their warships enter Philippine waters.
Lorenzana said Zhao made the commitment on July 22, the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address.
On July 31, AFP spoksperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said there was “duplicity” in the passage early this year of the first 4 reported Chinese warships because their automatic identification systems must have been deliberately turned off to avoid detection by radar.
Arevalo called it a “deception.”
Lorenzana has questioned the presence of Chinese naval and survey vessels in Philippine seas.
Sobejana said the Westmincom has informed the national leadership about the latest 5 Chinese warships they spotted so that "they can engage with their counterparts in the Department of Foreign Affairs or with their attachés in Manila.”
It is unclear whether the DFA has officially protested the clandestine passages of Chinese warships through Philippine territorial waters. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.