President Duterte has had enough of foreign intrusions into Philippine waters, declaring that Philippine authorities will be compelled to enforce its territorial rights in an “unfriendly manner”.
Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, on Tuesday (August 20) said: “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.”
Malacanang’s pronouncement came after persistent reports of foreign vessels—including those from China and Vietnam— being spotted within the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone.
“Either we get a compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner,” Panelo said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier disclosed that Chinese warships have been spotted in Sibutu Strait in the South since February.
Chinese research vessels were also monitored by a US-based maritime expert within the Philippine EEZ.
Vietnamese and Chinese fishing vessels, as well as a coast guard vessel of China, were spotted by the AFP in Ayungin Shoal.
Because of these recent intrusions, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. already ordered on Monday the filing of another diplomatic protest against Beijing.
This is a prelude to President Duterte’s scheduled visit to China from August 28 to September 2.
Manila and Beijing are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which allows innocent passage of ships through the territorial sea of a coastal state provided that it will be “continuous and expeditious.”
On Monday, Panelo told reporters that Duterte takes the unannounced entry of foreign vessels into Philippine territory seriously. “It is an issue with the Office of the President given that we need to be informed in advance of any passage in our territory, because that is what the UNCLOS says.”