Philippines files another diplomatic protest vs China

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines has filed another diplomatic protest against China, this time over the presence of Chinese survey ships and warships in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr announced the Philippine government's move in a tweet on Friday, August 9.

"Okay, got it, General. DFA firing off diplomatic protest," Locsin tweeted.

Locsin issued the statement after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana – a retired military general – urged the Philippine government to ask Beijing why its research vessels and warships were entering Philippine waters.

Okay, got it, General. @DFAPHL firing off diplomatic protest. https://t.co/xF7oT7mWhl — Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 9, 2019

"The action that I would like our government to do is to inform or ask the Chinese embassy what these ships are doing in our EEZ without our knowledge,"  Lorenzana told ANC.

Map images showed Chinese survey vessels were recently spotted operating in Philippine waters. (LOOK: Chinese survey ship found operating in PH waters)

US Naval War College's Ryan Martinson tweeted images of the "Dong Fang Hong 3" operating in waters near Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, on Wednesday night, August 7. Prior to that, map images also showed Chinese oceanographic survey ship "Zhanjian" was operating in Philippine waters since Saturday, August 3. Martinson is an assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute at the Naval War College.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr earlier said he would only rely on military information and recommendations before confirming if foreign survey vessels were operating in Philippine waters. (READ: China survey vessel in PH waters? Not until AFP says so – Locsin)

In response to former poll commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, Locsin gave assurances the protest was filed.

"Don't hope, it's done," Locsin said.

Don't hope; it's done. https://t.co/jIllqaXKfp — Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 9, 2019

The Chinese survey ships' presence in Philippine waters comes after reports of several other Chinese vessels – including warships – were found in or passing through Philippine waters without prior notice to Philippine authorities.

Lorenzana said China did not inform the Philippines about these activities.

"No. As far as I am concerned, now I've talked to Secretary Esperon, and there were no information regarding their visit to our EEZ," he said, when asked if Philippine authorities had been informed about such operations. 

The latest protest comes after the Philippines, through Locsin, "fired off" a diplomatic protest against Beijing last July 31 over the presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Philippines has fostered friendlier ties with China under President Rodrigo Duterte, who has downplayed the long-standing sea dispute in exchange for loans and grants from Beijing. (READ: Philippines loses to China 3 years after Hague ruling– with a report from JC Gotinga/Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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