Panelo: Repeated intrusion of Chinese vessels in PH waters an ‘irritant’
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo echoed the sentiments of Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, saying that the repeated unannounced presence of Chinese vessels in the country’s waters is becoming an “irritant”.
Lorenzana earlier called the recent reports of presence of of five Chinese warships in Sibutu Strait near Tawi-tawi since July an “irritant” while hoping that President Rodrigo Duterte would discuss the incident with China during his visit later this month.
“I agree with Secretary Lorenzana. It’s becoming an irritant if you keep on repeating certain acts that may be viewed to be in violation of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and not as an act of friendship between two countries,” Panelo said in an interview over Radyo Inquirer.
When asked about the options of the government in addressing the issue, Panelo said: “The government can always file a diplomatic protest and let them respond to it.”
Panelo cannot confirm if Duterte will raise the incident when he visits China as he clarified that the trip does not have a set date yet.
But in a separate interview, Panelo recognized that discussing the issue would be important.
“But I suppose taking that up would be also important because as Mr. Lorenzana said … the incident has been repeatedly done and therefore is becoming an irritant,” Panelo said.
“We want to know, really, why they are passing through here,” he added. /je
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