By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Navy (PN) Tuesday confirmed that a Chinese survey ship arrived in Davao City Monday night.
Navy spokesman Commodore Jonathan Zata said the ship arrived in Davao City at 8:14 p.m. Monday for replenishment as granted by the diplomatic clearance issued by higher authorities.
“This is a routine ship visit similar to any other foreign ship wishing to call on our ports,” Zata said.
“It’s completely routine, nothing unusual about the visit. We had Chinese warships calling on our ports in the past the same as with any other warships from other countries,” he added.
Zata added that as per information he received, the ship will be in Davao City until the morning of July 19th.
In a text message, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they know about the ship’s arrival in Davao City and no less than Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua wrote Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano that it would be docking there.
Lorenzana said the Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang arrived in Sasa wharf in Davao City and there was prior coordination made by Chinese ambassador Zhao to Sec. Cayetano.
“The docking was given approval,” Lorenzana said.
“We know about it. The Chinese ambassador wrote to the SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) Cayetano that it would be docking in Davao to refurbish and it was allowed to do so,” Lorenzana said.
It was recalled that three Chinese Navy vessels were in the country for a goodwill visit from April 30 to May 3, 2018.
The vessels– Chang Chun (DDG 150), a guided missile destroyer; Kin Zhou (FFG 532), a guided missile frigate; and Chao Hu (890), a replenishment ship — also docked at Sasa Wharf in Davao City.
The flotilla was headed by Rear Adm. Shen Hao, deputy commander of the East Sea Fleet of the People Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and the concurrent commander-in-chief of the PLA Navy Task Group 150.
In June, government also allowed a Chinese aircraft to land and refuel in President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown of Davao City.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque assured the necessary protocols were followed in the latest technical stop of the foreign plane this weekend. He noted that the aircraft made a refueling stop similar to the plane that landed in Davao early this month.
“Same as last. Refueling stop. All licenses, permits, and protocols issued and observed,” Roque said.
A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Ilyushin Il-76 made another refueling stopover at the Davao International Airport on Saturday noon.
The IL-76 is a known heavy-transport plane designed to carry tanks, guns and other military equipment. It has a wingspan of about 50 meters and has a payload of at least 40 tons.
On June 8, the same Chinese military plane landed in Davao for a refueling stopover with the Philippine government’s permission.
Roque noted that relevant government agencies closely coordinated for the aircraft’s refueling that “followed established procedures.” He said no movement of passengers was made outside the terminal building.
“The same courtesy is extended to Philippine government aircraft when technical stops need to be undertaken,” he added.