Palace reminds China: Friends give each other courtesy

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said that China should have asked permission, or at least even informed the Philippines that its survey ships would be passing through the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), saying friends should be courteous with one another.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana raised concern about the passage of China’s ships in the country’s EEZ, adding that it did not even ask for clearance to do so.

In an interview with ANC, Lorenzana said nobody was being prevented from doing their research in the area, as long as Manila was informed about it beforehand.

“If the intention is only to study the sea or the fish, marine life there, then it is not a security threat. But if they’re doing other things like making reconnaissance or surveillance of our positions, then it’s a threat,” he said.

In an interview Friday afternoon, Panelo said that even if the Philippines and China were friends, the latter should have informed Manila of the passage of its vessels in the latter’s waters.

“Even on the basis of friendship, then a matter of courtesy require that we should be informed of any passage through our exclusive economic zone,” he said.

“I will use the words of the Ambassador (Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua). We’re friends and friends provide each other with courtesies required of friendship,” he added.

Panelo also said that the Philippines did not even need to give consent to any country seeking to pass through the country’s EEZ as long as they informed Manila about it first.

“Kahit hindi consent kasi sabi nga kahit na information lang (Not even consent, just informing us will do), at least they informed that they are passing through. Courtesy,” he said.

Following Lorenzana’s interview with ANC, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be “firing off” a diplomatic protest against China on the matter.

READ MORE: PH to file another diplomatic protest over presence of two Chinese ships in EEZ

According to Panelo, it is only appropriate that the DFA filed a diplomatic protest since China did not ask for permission before entering the country’s EEZ.

“The UNCLOS precisely states that countries that pass through exclusive economic zones of another country should least either inform or seek permission from those countries. Now since they have not, it goes without saying that diplomatic protest must be filed,” he said.

“We want to know exactly what’s the reason behind it. And most likely their response will be, ‘We’re supposed to be the owners,'” he added.

Palace concerned

Panelo said that Malacañang was concerned about the issue.

“If it involves security, then it should be a concern to this government,” he said.

“Concerned. We’re concerned,” he added.

However, Panelo raised the possibility that the crew of the Chinese ships may have just been acting on their own accord, and that their actions were not known to the Chinese government.

“Now we do not know actually if the Chinese government allowed this kind of violation because it may be that the warships passed through that without the Chinese government knowing it,” he said.

“That can be possible if there is negligence on the part of those people in command,” he added.

“The assumption is the Chinese government know about this, that’s why we are protesting. So we’re waiting for their response,” he continued.