The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has summoned Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian over the People’s Liberation Army- Navy’s (PLAN’s) reported “illegal incursion” in the Sulu Sea.
This developed after a PLAN Electronic Reconnaissance Ship with bow number 792 entered Philippine waters without permission, reaching the waters of Palawan’s Cuyo Group of Islands and Apo Island in Mindoro from January 29 to February 1, 2022.
In response to the incident, Acting Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro demanded that China respect Philippine territory and maritime jurisdiction.
She added that China should comply with its obligations under international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and directs its vessels to desist from entering Philippine waters uninvited and without permission.
According to the DFA, the Philippine Navy vessel BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) challenged PLAN 792, which alleged exercising innocent passage. However, Its movements did not follow a track that can be considered as continuous and expeditious, lingering in the Sulu Sea for three days.
PLAN 792 also continued its activities in Philippine waters despite being repeatedly directed by the BRP Antonio Luna to leave Philippine waters immediately, the DFA added.
The DFA said the Philippines respects innocent passage, but China’s movement did not constitute such an act.
“As a country that abides by its international commitments, the Philippines recognizes the right of innocent passage per Article 52 of the 1982 UNCLOS. However, the actions of PLAN 792 did not constitute innocent passage and violated Philippine sovereignty,” the DFA said.