MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang will ask Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua to explain the presence of Chinese warships in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without informing the Philippine government, a move that broke the Chinese envoy’s earlier commitment.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said Zhao assured him on July 22 that the Chinese Navy will inform the Philippine government if their warships will enter Philippine waters.
But since Zhao had made the commitment, the military has confirmed that two Chinese warships were spotted in the Sibutu Strait in the Southern Philippines and three more in August.
“Then we will call their attention. We’ll call their attention,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing Thursday.
Panelo said he would raise the issue during his dinner with Zhao one of these days.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the presence of Chinese navy and survey ships in Philippine waters.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the presence of Chinese warships in Philippine waters was a violation of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“It’s a violation of the UNCLOS. That’s a violation of the UNCLOS because they passed through our EEZ,” he said.
The Palace official said the presence of Chinese warships in the Philippines’ EEZ “should be a subject of concern” Manila and Beijing.
“We express concern with that kind of incident because if they keep on saying that we are friends, I don’t think this is an act of friendship,” he said.
Panelo earlier demanded “courtesy” from Beijing after Chinese warships passed through Philippine waters without Manila’s consent.