The Philippines has already banned marine survey ships from other countries, including China, from entering the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Monday.
“I banned marine survey ships, amending [the] restriction to France and Japan by adding China,” Locsin said on his Twitter account. “To pick and choose invites suspicion of favoritism.”
“Will universalize the ban. Period. Granting exception to one country will automatically lift ban universally. Exception[s] invite bribes,” he added.
Locsin made the statement after reports said two Chinese survey ships sailed within the country’s exclusive economic zone where Filipinos have the exclusive rights to explore and exploit natural resources.
Earlier, Ryan Martinson, assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the US Naval War College, revealed that Chinese ship, Zhang Jian has been operating some 80 nautical miles of the east coast of the country since Aug. 3.
Another Chinese oceanographic research ship–Dong Fang Hong 3–has been found northwest of the Philippines, Martinson said, adding that the closest it got was Ilocos Norte.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a ship conducting a scientific survey must ask or request permission from the country that has jurisdiction over the area where the survey will take place.
Both Manila and Beijing are signatories to UNCLOS.
The reported presence of the survey vessels came on the heels of reports of several Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy ships, including Beijing’s lone aircraft carrier Liaoning, passing through Philippine waters without asking permission from Manila and with their automatic identification transponders turned off.
This also came after the DFA filed a diplomatic protest over the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa island in the Kalayaan Island Group.
On Sunday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the ship—thought to be Chinese–docked off Subic Bay is actually former Japanese vessel acquired and converted into a yacht by a businessman based in Subic.
The ship was seen anchored off Subic Bay early Sunday.
Further verification showed that the ship used to be the Japanese research-and-survey vessel Tankai Maru, he said.
“It has been bought and converted into a motor yacht. It caters to tourists that are already in Subic,” Lorenzana added.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator, lawyer Amy Eisma, also confirmed that the yacht is registered in Subic as the Balena II. With PNA