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China’s warships, survey, & dredging ships enter PH waters w/o permission

Chinese warships in Tawi-Tawi

It apparently was not the aircraft carrier Liaoning, but several Chinese warships did sail through the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi 4 times since February without informing Philippine authorities, confirmed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy should have notified the government ahead of its passage through Philippine waters, Lorenzana added, even if Sibutu Strait is an international waterway where foreign ships have the “right of innocent passage.”

Kung mga warships ‘yan (If those are warships), they should inform us that they are passing,” Lorenzana told reporters on Thursday, July 25, as the Philippine Coast Guard presented newly-acquired assets at its headquarters at the Port of Manila.

Last Friday, July 19, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio revealed in a forum in Quezon City that the Liaoning passed through Sibutu Strait that day, and later on clarified that it happened “2 to 3 weeks ago.”

Sought for comment by Rappler, Lorenzana said then that he had not received any report from the military regarding a Chinese ship passing through Sibutu Strait, and that “there is no need to ask permission if it is innocent passage.”

Chinese warships in Palawan

Four Chinese navy vessels have passed through Palawan waters in June without informing Philippine authorities and disregarded radio warnings of the military, the Western Command said Tuesday.

Wescom chief Vice Adm. Rene Medina said that one Chinese Navy vessel navigated in the vicinity waters off Balabac, Palawan’s southernmost town, in the afternoon of June 17 and was “unresponsive” to the radio warnings of their operating unit.

Another gray ship that passed by in the same area later that evening only disclosed thru radio its bow number and nothing else, while the two other Chinese navy ships that sailed along with it did not respond to the Philippine military’s radio calls, he also said in a press briefing in Palawan.

This information, he noted, was the basis of “higher headquarters” to recommend diplomatic action.

Chinese Survey Ships in the Philippines

Two Chinese survey ships had been operating within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a maritime expert revealed.

Ryan Martinson, a maritime expert and professor at the US Naval War College, said on his Twitter account on Tuesday that China’s oceanographic survey ship Zhanjian was spotted operating 80 nautical miles off the east coast of the Philippines, which is near Siargao Island.

“Is it operating there with Manila’s permission?” Martinson asked. He also posted a photo of the vessel.

Martinson said the ship, which could be conducting maritime research, had been in the area since Saturday last week, believing that the ship was conducting marine scientific research.

He said the ship might be “placing or recovering instruments.”

“To conduct marine scientific research in another state’s EEZ, you must gain approval,” Martinson added.

He cited Article 246 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which says: “Marine scientific research in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf shall be conducted with the consent of the coastal State.”

Chinese dredging ship in Cagayan

A Chinese dredging vessel, suspected of being used for black sand mining, ran aground in Aparri, Cagayan.

According to a report by Athena Imperial on GMA News TV’s State of the Nation with Jessica Soho on Thursday, the rough waves amid inclement weather sent the vessel at the shallow part of the waters.

The crew aboard the dredging vessel did not seek any help but the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) initiated to check how the foreigners were doing.

The PCG said it also inspected the vessel’s oil tank to prevent an oil spill.

The Chinese crew decided not to venture out too far from the coast until the weather condition improves.

READ: Here’s how much China’s illegal fishing activity is earning from Philippine waters