The Philippine Navy will request that a diplomatic protest be filed over a Chinese vessel’s alleged surveying activities at Recto Bank or Reed Bank, its chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said Monday.
Bacordo told an online new forum that the Chinese vessel had no clearance to survey the area, and that the Philippine Navy would be submitting a report on it to the Defense department.
"The presence of two Chinese surveillance vessels in Recto Bank has come to my attention, but right now I think there's only one,” Bacordo said.
“We have reported this, and we have checked if they have any clearance to conduct a survey in that area, and we’ve found out there is none.”
Bacordo made his statement even as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said President Rodrigo Duterte was only “being realistic and practical” when he said he could not do anything about Beijing's pursuit of territory and resources in the South China Sea.
When Duterte said in his last State-of-the-Nation Address last month that he was “inutile” on the maritime issue, he might have meant that the Philippines could not address that issue militarily, Lorenzana said.
The United States, Manila’s defense ally, could not stay permanently in the Philippines to help protect its territory, he said.
"He was just being realistic and practical, that we cannot do anything," Lorenzana told ANC.
Bacordo said sending a Philippine Navy ship to Recto Bank to check the situation there was an option, but he would leave it to the commander of the Western Command to do it. But he said he did not know yet if a vessel had already been deployed there.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has said he does not know of any permission for a Chinese vessel to survey the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and that he only knew that there were permissions for an American and French vessel to go to that area.
Reports said the Chinese ship left China on July 22 and arrived at Recto Bank on Aug. 6.
The foreign vessel was identified as Xiang Yang Hong 14.