(AUGUST 20, 2019) – Malacañang on Tuesday has issued a new directive for foreign vessels: Secure clearance first from proper government authorities before passing through Philippine waters.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President ordered the directive after another Chinese Coast Guard vessel was spotted at Ayungin Shoal, which is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The vessel, according to reports, stayed in the area for three weeks.
“When you perform acts repeatedly, that is about time to tell them to stop,” Panelo said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had expressed concern over the repeated passage of foreign vessels, particularly Chinese, in our territory without permission. The military believes the vessels are being used to monitor the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
Before the Ayungin sighting, the Western Mindanao Command reported that five Chinese warships sailed through the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi between July and August this year.
The Palace admitted it just resorted to firing off diplomatic protests in the past, with little results. With this development, it says anyone who violates the directive will be driven away.
“Either we get a compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner,” Panelo added.
Duterte will be in China on August 28 for a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where he said he will bring up the 2016 artbitral ruling favoring the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea dispute. (Randell Ritumalta/JMF)