Duterte warns foreign ships to get clearance before entering PH waters
Marje Pelayo • August 20, 2019 • 313
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (August 20) imposed a directive on all foreign vessels before they enter the Philippines’ territorial waters.
“The president is putting on notice, that henceforth beginning today, all foreign vessels that will be passing through our territorial waters will have to get clearance from the proper government authority way ahead in advance the actual passage,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
The President’s order came after reports of Chinese warships that allegedly entered the Philippine territory without permission from the government.
Chinese vessels were seen in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi in July and three similar sightings happened in August, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (AFP Westmincom).
“Either they comply in a friendly manner or we will enforce in an unfriendly manner,” Panelo said.
The Palace spokesman explained that by saying ‘unfriendly’ means blocking entry to any foreign vessels intruding in the Philippine territory.
But Panelo clarified that the President’s order didn’t mean an automatic use of force against intruders.
However, the situation would be different if the foreign vessel refused to heed to the President’s order.
“By that, it means that we will ask them to move out of the place, that’s unfriendly because before we never said anything, we just allow them. We just make a protest,” Panelo said.
“But this time, we will tell them: “Please get out of our territorial waters,” he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier filed a diplomatic protest against the unauthorized entry of the Chinese warships into the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
It remains unclear, however, if the issue will be included in the agenda of the meeting between President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the President’s working visit in China on August 28 to September 3. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA Philippines – The Philippine Navy (PN) is now finalizing its rules of engagement covering foreign ships that traverse through the Philippine waters.
The said protocol particularly applies to foreign vessels that refuse to respond to notifications by the military and those who refuse to reveal their identifications.
Such rules of engagement were prompted by an order from President Rodrigo Duterte to the Department of National Defense (DND) to deal with friendly or unfriendly manner should foreign ships refuse to secure permission to navigate from the Philippine government.
“Ang concept namin is kapag nakita namin sa monitoring station. If we have ships available, we shadow sabihan natin sa kanila na andito ka sa territorial waters (Our concept is upon notification of their presence in our monitoring station and we have ships available, we shadow. We would notify them that they already entered our territorial waters),” explained Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, the Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy.
Empedrad said they will continue to challenge any vessel who intrudes the country’s territory particularly those that slow down or if they turn off the vessel’s automatic identification system.
The official said that once they have proven that a ship’s transiting is not a case of ‘innocent passage’, they will immediately report the incident which the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) may use as a ground for filing a diplomatic protest.
However, Empedrad worries that the military’s capability would not be enough to secure the Philippines’ territorial waters.
“Ang laki kasi ng waters natin (Our territorial sea is very broad) and we need to modernize the Philippine Navy,” he noted.
“Kulang (ang) barko natin kaya in-enhance natin ‘yong monitoring station natin so we can see ‘yong mga pumapasok (We lack military warships and we need to enhance our monitoring station so we can see who really are intruding),” he added.
A number of unauthorized transiting were reported this year, the latest was the passing of Chinese vessels in Sibuti Strait in Tawi-Tawi when the foreign crewmen refused to identify themselves and even turned off their automatic identification system when challenged by Philippine Navy ships. – MNP (with reports from April Cenedoza)
The government stands firm that the Benham Rise is a territory of the Philippines and it can only allow innocent passage in the area but disallow stay and establishment of any structure.
This is based on the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.
However, on the report of the alleged incursion of some Chinese survey ships near Benham Rise last year, Malacañang insists that it will still pursue diplomatics talks with China on the issue.
“Having said that thing about Benham Rise, we will continue to pursue diplomatic talks with the other party,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
Abella also clarified that President Duterte has no directives for the government to build structures in Benham Rise, however, the President wants to strengthen the military’s capacity in patrolling Philippine territory.
“Regarding building any structures, as far as any resolutions were made, there were none, however the President did agree that we should improve our capabilities of enforcing our rights regarding airspace, and territorial waters,” Abella said.
President Duterte allayed concerns on the alleged incursion of Chinese ships in Benham Rise.
The President also said he was given prior information way before the sail of the Chinese ships in the area.
“No, may agreement kami (No, we have an agreement). I even invited them to the shores of the Philippines, pinapalaki lang yan (it’s being blown out of proportion). I don’t know, because we previously approved that they can, research naman. Ininvite ko nga ang Russia battleships nila (I even invited their Russias battleships). We were advised of it way ahead but maybe we have the right to ask, ‘Kumusta, anong sadya mo rito (Hello, what brings you here)?’ Parang ganun lang (Just something like that),” the President said. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue
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