By Marjaleen Ramos
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday that China has agreed to ask permission from the Philippine government for its warships to pass through the Philippine waters.
“I do know that we object to survey ships in our waters. That’s just plain objection,” Locsin said in an interview with ANC Headstart.
Locsin raised two issues on the passing of China’s warship in the Philippine waters. “One, it seemed to be going around in circles. Two, it cut off its tracking device, so we know what it is.”
“Duterte said, he was really angry, he said: ‘They must ask permission before going through our waters,'” he added. “And then China answered: ‘Of course, next time we will ask permission.”
“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.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said at least 9 Chinese warships had passed Sibutu Strait without informing the Philippine government. This has angered the President and demanded China to seek permission.
Locsin said China claimed there was a storm that forced their warships to stay longer in Philippine waters.
“We can check if there was a storm of sufficient force that it forced the ships to stay awhile longer rather than the continuous passage,” he said.
Locsin also questioned why China cut off its ships’ tracking devices.
“I thought we were friends. Now, I don’t know if the Americans are our friends but you said you are our friends. All I am asking is permission. On top of which, China also demands permission for vessels passing through. Now we are in agreement,” he added.