MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) did not give permission for Chinese survey vessel Jia Geng to stay in Philippine waters, clarifying that it was allowed only to seek shelter allegedly due to bad weather.
In a tweet, Locsin stressed the Philippine Coast Guard “has zero authority [or] competence to allow it.”
He added that the request for shelter was made on Saturday “before any report of intrusion why it was an emergency,” noting that the request did not mean the “permission to stay and be watched.”
“DFA never gave permit to Jia Geng. But for humanitarian considerations we ok'd Chinese embassy request for shelter against bad weather. The Coast Guard has zero authority/competence to allow it. Only DFA. Not to stay. But seek shelter. Period. P*******a,” Locsin said in a deleted tweet.
“DFA never gave permission to Jia Geng. For humanitarian reasons DFA okayed the emergency Chinese embassy request for shelter against bad weather. Request for shelter; not permission to stay and be watched. Period,” he said in a revised tweet.
The Philippine Coast Guard on Monday said the Chinese survey ship that took shelter for several days in Philippine waters has already left.
In a statement also on Monday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila blasted reports on the Chinese vessel following its entry in the country’s exclusive economic zone, describing news of its “intrusion” as “sensationalized.”
The Embassy clarified that the ship sought clearance and humanitarian assistance from the Philippine government to shelter in Philippine waters “due to unfavorable weather and sea conditions in the Pacific where they are scheduled to conduct [a] research mission.”
“Under [the] UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and international customary law, every coastal state is obliged to provide necessary humanitarian assistance to save life at sea,” the statement read.
“It is a fact that China and the Philippines have been rendering assistance to each other on many similar humanitarian occasions,” it added.
China has been ignoring a 2016 ruling of a UN-backed tribunal, prompted by a Philippine action, that invalidates Beijing's expansive claim to the South China Sea. Incidentally, this ruling also invoked the UNCLOS.