MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte was “really angry” about Chinese warships passing through the Philippine waters without any permission, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. disclosed Wednesday.
Locsin raised two issues on the unannounced passing of Chinese warships in the country’s exclusive economic zone: “One, it seemed to be going around in circles. Two, it cut off its tracking device, so we know what it is.”
“And Duterte said, he is really angry, and he said they must ask permission before going through our waters. China answered: ‘of course, next time we will ask permission,’” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
“So I asked, wait a minute, what is going on here? He said because China’s position in the world is this: You pass through our waters, you ask permission. But what about the right of innocent passage? No, you still ask permission because it’s absolute,” he explained.
Locsin said that China argued there was a storm in one instance so their warships could not immediately move on through intended course. He said government authorities will verify this claim if there was indeed a storm that is strong in one incident that forced the vessel to circle in the waters instead of heading in a continuous passage.
The Department of National Defense has recorded 13 incidents of Chinese warships passing through the Philippine waters unannounced since February. These are nine incidents through the Sibutu Strait and four through Palawan’s Balabac Strait. /jpv
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