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‘Duterte to continue protecting Philippines' territory’

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
âDuterte to continue protecting Philippines' territoryâ
Last Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Chinese reconnaissance ship PLAN 792 entered Philippine waters without permission from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 and monitored the naval exercise.
Presidential Photo, file

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will continue to protect the Philippines’ territory while maintaining diplomatic ties with China, Malacañang said yesterday, after the defense department revealed that a Chinese ship had entered Philippine waters to monitor a joint exercise of Filipino and American troops.

Last Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Chinese reconnaissance ship PLAN 792 entered Philippine waters without permission from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 and monitored the naval exercise.

He said the vessel was in the Sulu Sea, an area that he described as “sensitive” since it is not part of international waters. Foreign ships, the defense chief added, can only exercise innocent passage through the area.

Lorenzana said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian over the incident, noting that the Chinese vessel cannot put Filipinos under surveillance within our own territorial waters.

“Following an investigation, the Department of Foreign Affairs has determined that these actions violate national sovereignty and has taken appropriate diplomatic action,” acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said at a press briefing.

“The DFA summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge a diplomatic protest regarding this incident, and the President, while engaging in diplomacy in dealing with China, will always protect our territory and uphold our national interest,” he added.

The Philippines and China are embroiled in a longstanding maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea, the area in the South China Sea that is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

In 2016, an arbitral court based in The Hague ruled that China’s wide-reaching claim in the South China Sea has no legal basis but the Chinese government refused to recognize the decision.

During the inauguration of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge on Tuesday, Duterte said the Philippines and China are not quarreling with one another and that the two countries can discuss the maritime row peacefully.

DELFIN LORENZANA

DFA

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