The Philippine Navy is now putting flesh on the directive of President Duterte for concerned authorities to be ready to stop sea incursions even in an “unfriendly manner”.
Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told reporters on Wednesday (August 28) they are now finalizing the rules of engagement that the Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and other concerned agencies will follow when a foreign vessel has entered the country exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without permission.
“Regarding the unfriendly gesture, the Navy is coming out with a rules of engagement. Our concept is once we monitor a vessel entering our territorial waters, we will have a ship to shadow, to accompany that (foreign) ship, assuming that it did not seek permission; we will shadow it until it exited our territorial waters,” Empedrad said.
He continued: “We continuously challenge the ship. If it did not respond or has switched off its AIS (Automatic Identification System), probably we can send an aircraft to shadow it also.”
If the ship still opted to stay within the country’s EEZ, Empedrad said Philippine authorities can cross its bow, although still not in a “provocative manner”.
Empedrad said the rules of engagement will not violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and should be taken as the host’s house rules to a visitor.
“The territorial waters is like your house. When you have a visitor, it is your rules that will be followed,” he noted.
President Duterte, Empedrad said, is correct in demanding that foreign vessels seek clearance first before they enter Philippine waters.
The Department of Foreign Affairs already filed diplomatic protests against Beijing the reported repeated incursions of Chinese survey vessels and warships.
But Duterte also declared that the Philippines will not hesitate to enforce its territorial rights even in an “unfriendly manner”.