Recto backs Duterte in requiring foreign ships passing PH to ask permission
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday backed the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to require foreign vessels to seek permission before passing through the Philippine waters.
“The President is in the right in directing foreign ships who will sail in our seas to ask clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of the actual passage,” Recto said in a statement.
Recto also compared the incident to jaywalkers and erring drivers, adding that if rules are imposed on domestic ships, the same should also apply on foreign vessels.
“If we accost jaywalkers and fine drivers who change lanes abruptly, then why should we not demand the same observance of our laws from vessels who will cross into our territory?” Recto said.
“If we require domestic ships to file in advance the course they will take, then why should we exempt foreign ones from doing the same?” the senator added.
Further, Recto said that the order merely seeks to ask “other countries to merely accord us the respect which is theirs to give under international laws.”
“In this case, the Philippines is not demanding something out of the ordinary,” the senator added.
Duterte made the order following the pronouncement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who called the recent reports of presence of five Chinese warships in Sibutu Strait near Tawi-tawi since July an “irritant,” while hoping that Duterte would discuss the incident with China during his visit later this month.
This sentiment was echoed by Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“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.
Under the UNCLOS, foreign vessel may only pass through another nation’s waters without notice if they are conducting “innocent passage.” /jpv
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