China on Wednesday justified the presence of one of its naval vessels in Philippine waters as an “exercise of the right of innocent passage.”
“The Chinese naval vessel’s sailing through the Philippine waters was an exercise of the right of innocent passage pursuant to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
Philippine authorities accused Beijing of “illegal incursion” by China’s People’s Liberation Army- Navy’s (PLAN’s) in the Sulu Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday summoned Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xillian over the Chinese vessel’s entry into Philippine waters without permission, and lingering in the area for three days, Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. 2022.
The DFA said the Philippine Navy’s BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) challenged the Chinese naval vessel’s presence in Philippine waters.
“Its movements, however, did not follow a track that can be considered as continuous and expeditious, lingering in the Sulu Sea for three days,” the DFA noted.
According to the DFA, the Chinese vessel “continued its activities in Philippine waters despite being repeatedly directed by the BRP Antonio Luna to leave Philippine waters immediately.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted however that the passage of the was safe and standard, and consistent with international law and international practice.
“We hope relevant parties can view it in an objective and rational manner,” Zhao said.
But the DFA maintained that the Chinese vessel’s actions “did not constitute innocent passage, and violated Philippine sovereignty.”
Meanwhile, Malacañang gave assurances yesterday that the DFA would take the necessary moves in reaction to the continuing incursions of foreign ships at the Philippine Rise.
Acting Presidential Spokesman Martin Andanar said at a briefing that the DFA would file a diplomatic protest over the incursions.
Acting Foreign Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro lodged Manila’s diplomatic protest, charging that the passage of China’s navy ship in Philippine waters was illegal and violated the country’s sovereign rights.
“From 29 January to 01 February 2022, a PLAN Electronic Reconnaissance Ship (Dongdiao-class) with bow number 792 entered Philippine waters without permission, reaching the waters of Palawan’s Cuyo Group of Islands and Apo Island in Mindoro,” the DFA said. With GMA News