PHILIPPINE Navy Chief Robert Empedrad said on Wednesday, August 28, that they will "shadow" and escort foreign vessels that enter Philippine territorial waters without permission.
Empedrad said they are still finalizing the rules of engagement on “unfriendly manner” of a foreign vessel intruding the Philippine territorial waters.
“Regarding the unfriendly gesture, the Navy is coming out with a rules of engagement. ‘Yung concept namin is once na may na-monitor entering our territorial waters, meron tayong barko... to shadow, to accompany ‘yung ship assuming na hindi siya nagpaalam, i-shadow natin siya hanggang makaalis siya sa ating territorial waters,” Empedrad said.
“We continuously challenge the ship. Kapag hindi siya sumagot or nagpatay siya ng AIS (Automatic Identification System) probably we can send an aircraft para i-shadow din siya or we can picture the ship,” he added.
The official said if the foreign vessel will insist on passing through Philippine waters even without permit, the Navy is ordered to cross its bow but not in a “provocative manner.”
Earlier, based on the monitoring of the Western Mindanao Command, at least five Chinese warships entered the Philippine territorial waters in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-tawi in July and in the first week of August.
Military officials said the entry of the Chinese warships cannot be considered as an “innocent passage” as these did not follow a straight path.
Under an innocent passage as defined in the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea or Unclos, all the foreign vessels which will pass through the territorial waters of another country should only follow a straight path and if not, they should ask permission from the country’s government.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Chinese warships did not have any permission to enter Philippine territory.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said foreign vessels should seek permission if they want to sail through the Philippine waters.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said non-compliance with the said order could force the Philippine government to act in an “unfriendly” way. (SunStar Philippines)