Chinese warships 'not hostile' but did not coordinate with Philippines
Two Chinese warships were seen along the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi in July, while three were spotted this month.
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Chinese warships 'not hostile' but did not coordinate with Philippines
(Philstar.com) - August 15, 2019 - 11:25am

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese warships recently spotted passing through the country’s territorial waters were “not hostile” but their presence was not coordinated with the Philippine government, the military's Western Mindanao Command said.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said two Chinese warships were seen along the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi in July, while three were spotted this month.

“Apparently there was no coordination at all. That’s why we reported the matter to higher headquarters so that engagement will be done by the higher authorities with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the counterpart Chinese authorities,” Sobejana said in an interview on CNN Philippines Thursday.

The Westmincom commander said the Chinese ships were not hostile and did not did do anything that alarmed the military.

“They did not show anything that alarms our forces. When they saw us, they immediately changed direction away from our territory,” Sobejana said.

He added: “Since they are not hostile, the only concern we have is they entered our territory without coordination.”

But while Chinese warships did not appear to be hostile, their passage cannot be considered “innocent” because they were on a curved course, Sobejana was quoted in media reports as saying.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier revealed that four Chinese warships have entered and sailed through the Sibutu Strait at least four times since February without informing local authorities.

Chinese oceanographic survey ships were also recently spotted in the waters of Samar and Ilocos Norte.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said a diplomatic protest would be filed over the presence of Chinese warships and research vessels in the Philippine exclusive economic zone. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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