Locsin orders diplomatic protest vs Chinese ships spotted in Sibutu Strait

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. | Inquirer.net photo

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Monday, August 19, ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest against China over the passage of its warships in Philippine waters.

In a tweet, Locsin directed the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs to file the protest after it was reported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that Chinese warships were spotted passing through waters off southern Mindanao without informing local authorities.

This is the fourth diplomatic protest filed by the country against China this year.

“Fire diplomatic protest over Chinese warship; drop the diplomatic crap; say it is ours period; they’re trespassing,” he said.

“If we did it already, fire another. We won’t run out. And don’t wait for formal intel. This is the Secretary of National Defense no less. Fire at will,” Locsin added.

There have been 13 reports from the AFP about Chinese warships passing through Philippine waters with neither permission nor prior notice to the government since June 2019. Among these instances include the two warships spotted along Sibutu Strait in July and another three in August.

The Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi is an internationally recognized sea lane where foreign ships have the right of innocent passage.

According to Lt. Gen Cirilito Sobejana, AFP Western Mindanao Command chief, the Chinese vessels that passed through were not hostile; however, they were not innocently passing due to the curved path they took.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that the Department of National Defense is “getting irritated” over the series of Chinese incursions in Philippine waters. “I hope the matter will be taken up in order to put an end to all these, because our people are asking why they (Chinese warships) are there,” he said.

Lorenzana also noted that Beijing appeared to be “taunting” Manila by having their warships deployed in Philippine territorial waters without their Automatic Identification Systems turned on and prior notice to Philippine authorities. 

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