“Actually I’ve seen that survey ship and most of her area is outside of our EEZ in the Pacific ocean. Once in a while she’s sailing through our territorial waters but not for long,” Lorenzana said.
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‘Chinese research ships sighted in Pacific but outside Phl’
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - August 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese ship detected in the Pacific was actually conducting a survey outside the Philippines 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday.

 “Actually I’ve seen that survey ship and most of her area is outside of our EEZ in the Pacific ocean. Once in a while she’s sailing through our territorial waters but not for long,” Lorenzana said.

The Philippines’ Coast Watch System has been actively monitoring the nation’s territorial waters in cooperation with friendly states and allies, like the US.

According to Lorenzana, satellite tracking showed that the Chinese ship has been doing some surveys in the Pacific for a still unknown purpose.

When the Chinese vessel left the Pacific area it did not give advance notice that it would be sailing 80 nautical miles inside the country’s maritime waters.

“They did not inform us,” Lorenzana said. He added that all actions to address this concern are still on hold, pending result of a thorough study on the matter.

The defense chief pointed out that all ocean-going vessels on “innocent passage” – civilian and military alike – are not required to seek permission, based on the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He added that consultations are being done to get experts’ opinion on the UNCLOS provision on innocent passage.

While President Duterte’s recent directive to require all vessels passing through the country’s maritime waters to seek prior clearance can be described as a positive development, Lorenzana said its enforcement is not clear.

“We get experts to interpret the UNCLOS as to whether they need to ask permission, or simply inform us of their voyage for as long as they will not turn off their Automatic Identification System (AIS),” Lorenzana said.

Since February more than a dozen Chinese warships, with their AIS turned off, have been monitored to have intruded into the country’s waters through Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi and in Balabac Strait in Southern Palawan.

“It is a concern but they might just be studying the current or the sea (in the Pacific Ocean), the maritime life, especially involving migratory fish,” Lorenzana said.

However, he added that for now, it’s premature to conclude that the uncoordinated presence of these Chinese warships inside the country’s territorial waters are meant to survey or map the nation’s seabed.

CHINESE SHIP COAST WATCH SYSTEM EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE
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