Palace finds nothing wrong with asking US help in monitoring EEZ

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said there is nothing wrong if the Philippines will ask the help of the United States in monitoring the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) following reports that Chinese warships and survey ships passed through it without informing Manila.

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 proposed seeking the help of the US to monitor the area since the Philippines has no capability to do it on its own.

In a radio interview, Panelo said that there is nothing wrong with Lorenzana’s proposal since the Philippines and the US have a treaty binding the two countries.

“Wala namang masama rin doon. Ang alam ko gumagawa tayo ng sarili nating paraan para magkaroon tayo ng satellite resources (There’s nothing wrong with that. I know we’re doing something on our own so we can have satellite resources),” he said.

“Pero habang wala pa, eh kasama naman sa treaty yun. Meron tayong treaty between America and the Philippines (But while we don’t have that capability yet, we have a treaty with the United States),” he added.

READ MORE: Defense chief raised alarm over presence of Chinese survey ships in waters off Siargao, northern Luzon

According to Panelo, it is now Lorenzana’s call to communicate with the United States about his proposal.

Meanwhile, the Palace official also said it is also up to Lorenzana if he will push through with putting up a detachment in Fuga Island located in the country’s second northernmost island group to monitor what is going on the area.

“Lahat ng bagay na makakabuti sa seguridad ng bansa palaging okay kay Presidente (The President is okay with everything that will enhance the security of our country),” he said.

Panelo added that President Duterte does not even have to give orders to Lorenzana to do what he thinks will be better for the country.

“Actually hindi naman kailangan ng instruction pa ng Presidente ‘yan kasi ‘yan ang teritoryo ng Departamento ng Seguridad ng Bansa kaya alam na ni Secretary Lorenzana (The President does not need to instruct them because that is under the realm of the Department of National Defense so Secretary Lorenzana should know what to do),” he said.

“Kung ikaw ay myembro ng isang Gabinete at alam mo ang patakaran ng iyong principal, hindi ka na kailangang maghintay na utusan ka na gumawa ka ng isang bagay. Gagawin mo na at your own initiative because ito ang patakaran ng presidente simulat’s sapul (If you are a member of the Cabinet and you know your principal’s policy, you don’t need to be ordered around. You will do it at your own initiative because that is the President’s policy from the very start),” he added.

Earlier, Panelo said China should have asked permission, or at least even informed the Philippines if its survey ships would be passing through the country’s EEZ, saying friends should be courteous with one another.

“Even on the basis of friendship, then a matter of courtesy requires 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.