Esperon: Illegal passage of China ships on Sibutu Strait part of note verbale
MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. on Wednesday said that he has recommended to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to include in a note verbale a Chinese warships’ unauthorized passage through Sibutu Strait in the waters of Tawi-Tawi.
“Customarily, lahat ng military vessels that pass through our territory ask for diplomatic clearance. Nagkataon na we do not have it on record that China asked for diplomatic clearance,” Esperon said at the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
Esperon disclosed this after revealing he has asked DFA to file a diplomatic protest against Chinese vessels’ swarming of the Pag-asa Island last July 24.
When asked if he included the Sibutu incident in his recommendation, Esperon said: “We have.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, in a Twitter post, said he has filed the note verbale protesting the swarming in Pag-asa island, the Philippines’ largest outpost in the contested waterway.
However, it was unclear if the Sibutu incident was included in the filed diplomatic protest.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier reported that Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning passed through Sibutu Strait last month without the Philippine government knowing about it.
Since February, smaller Chinese warships have also navigated Sibutu Strait four times, he said.
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