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Philippines can seek US assistance in monitoring EEZ – Panelo

/ 06:34 AM August 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Sunday said there is nothing wrong with seeking assistance from the United States in monitoring the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Panelo said this amid recent reports of Chinese ships sailing unannounced into Philippine waters—including the two Chinese survey ships that were spotted within the country’s EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.

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Philippines US South China Sea

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is anchored off Manila Bay, Philippine, for a port call Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. The USS Ronald Reagan is cruising in international waters in the South China Sea amid tensions in the disputed islands, shoals and reefs between China and other claimant-countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier admitted that the country is not as adequately capable of monitoring ships entering the country’s territory, unlike the United States.

READ: Lorenzana seeks protest over presence of 2 Chinese survey ships in PH EEZ

READ: Defense chief on Chinese ships: Why the secrecy?

“Wala namang masama rin doon. Ang alam ko gumagawa tayo ng sarili nating paraan para magkaroon tayo ng satellite resources pero habang wala pa, eh kasama naman sa treaty yun. Meron tayong treaty between America and the Philippines,” Panelo said in an interview on Radyo Inquirer.

Panelo said the government would not have filed a diplomatic protest if the Chinese survey ships had permission to push through with their activity.

“Kung totoong magkakaibigan tayo, e siguro as a matter of courtesy between two friendly countries, magbigayan tayo… Kung kinakailangan magbigay ng pahintulot o magbigay man lang ng pahiwatig na ikaw ay dadaan sa isang lugar na hindi mo pag-aari,” Panelo said.

“Ang problema nga eh, sasabihin nula ‘e pag-aari nga namin yan e.’ You see the point? Mahirap talagang pag-usapan itong isang bagay na ipagdidiinan mo ang isang karapatan na inaangkin din ng kabila kaya talagang the best way pa rin talaga to solve it is pag-usapan na lang natin bilang magka-kaibigan,” Panelo added.

Images of intruding vessels

In a text message to INQUIRER.net, Lorenzana said that US-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), among others, is already providing images of vessels spotted within the country’s EEZ.

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“Most of the time other agencies such as AMTI which has access to these photos publish them first. Kaya reactive na lang tayo,” Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana also echoed Panelo’s comment on seeing no issues with seeking help from the US government in monitoring the country’s EEZ.

Detachment on Fuga Island

Panelo also welcomed the proposal to put up a detachment in the country’s second northernmost island group, Fuga Island.

READ: Philippine Navy mulls putting up a detachment on Fuga Island 

“Lahat ng bagay na makakabuti sa seguridad ng bansa palaging okay kay Presidente,” Panelo said.

“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,” Panelo said. /gsg

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TAGS: China, Chinese ships, Duterte, EEZ, latest news, Lorenzana, Panelo, US
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