4 China warships spotted in Sibutu, only 'innocent passage'--AFP

4 Chinese warships spotted in Sibutu, only ‘innocent passage’—AFP

/ 12:50 PM May 07, 2024

Sibutu Strait

Sibutu Strait, the Philippines’ southern tip.

LAOAG CITY, ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines — Four Chinese Navy warships were spotted in Sibutu Passage on May 2, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Tuesday.However, AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said that their presence in the maritime area only constitutes an “innocent passage.”

Sibutu Passage is the narrow channel that separates Sulu Archipelago and Borneo.


READ: China should’ve notified PH of ships’ passage through Sibutu—expert


“We are able to monitor their movements. With that, we could also confirm that this is an innocent passage,” Padilla said in a press conference here.

According to the Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), a passage may be deemed innocent “so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State.”

On May 3, the warships traversed the vicinity waters of Palawan before leaving the exclusive economic zone of the country later in the afternoon that day, according to Padilla.

READ: Esperon: Illegal passage of China ships on Sibutu Strait part of note verbale

Not the first time

This is not the first time Chinese warships have traversed the Sibutu Passage.

In 2019, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning passed through the channel without the Philippine government knowing about it, while smaller Chinese warships have also navigated there in earlier parts of that year.


Then National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. said he has recommended to the Department of Foreign Affairs to include in a note verbale  PLAN warship’s unauthorized passage there.

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TAGS: China, Philippines, Sibutu Strait

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