By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto expressed on Tuesday his support for President Duterte’s order to compel all foreign vessels to seek permission from the government before passing the Philippines’ territorial waters.
“The President is in the right in directing foreign ships who will sail on our seas to ask clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of the actual passage,” the Senate leader said in a statement issued after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced Duterte’s order.
Recto said foreign vessels that sail through the country’s waters without clearance should be accosted.
“If we accost jaywalkers and fine drivers who change lanes abruptly, then why should we not demand the same observance of our laws from vessels who will cross into our territory?” he asked.
“If we require domestic ships to file in advance the course they will take, then why should we exempt foreign ones from doing the same?” he added.
“In this case, the Philippines is not demanding something out of the ordinary, but for other countries to merely accord us the respect which is theirs to give under international laws,” Recto stressed.
Panelo on Tuesday said Duterte has decided to require vessels from other countries to notify Philippine authorities about their impending passage.
“Either they comply in a friendly manner, or we will enforce it in an unfriendly manner,” Panelo told reporters.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed diplomatic protests over the repeated reports on the unannounced sailing of Chinese warships and survey vessels within the Philippines’ territorial waters.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has also questioned the “secrecy” of their passage, appealing to the government to address what he already described as an “irritant.”