Despite China’s protest, PH has no objection to US ship’s ‘innocent passage’
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday backed the “freedom of navigation operation” carried out by a US Navy destroyer near an artificial island built by China in the disputed South China Sea.
Brig. General Restituto Padilla, AFP Spokesperson, said there was nothing wrong with the “innocent passage” conducted by the USS John S. McCain near the Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef).
This is contrary to China’s position, which was reported by Reuters, saying the “provocation” may lead to “unexpected incident at sea or in the air.”
“Well, freedom of navigation is guaranteed and anyone can do it. So, we just need to monitor. And as long as it is within the bounds set forth by international law, then it is all right,” Padilla said in a Palace briefing.
“Anyone can do it. So any navy, any merchant ship can ply these routes. They can pass and claim innocent passage,’ he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippine government has no objection with the innocent passage of US near the disputed sea.
“In the words of Secretary Lorenzana, the Philippines has no objection regarding the presumed innocent passage of sea craft,” Abella said.
“And that there is of course the freedom of navigation. In other words, from our side — from our side we find no objection,” he added. IDL
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