MANILA (UPDATE) - A Chinese research vessel docked in Davao City on Monday night, the fourth vessel from China to visit the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte came into power.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Chinese vessel, named Yuan Wang 3, docked at the President's hometown on the request of Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua.
"We know about it. The Chinese Ambassador wrote to the SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) Cayetano that it would be docking in Davao to refurbish and it was allowed to do so," Lorenzana said Tuesday.
Lorenzana added that "prior coordination" was made between Beijing and Manila regarding the ship's arrival.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said ships from countries that the Philippines maintains friendly ties with "may dock at our ports."
"Chinese survey ships, just like US warships, may dock at our ports. Only those afflicted with Sinophobia will find the routine incident objectionable," he said in a statement.
Navy spokesperson Commander Jonathan Zata said the ship arrived in Davao City at around 8:14 p.m. and will stay there until Thursday morning.
"They are here for a replenishment as granted by the diplomatic clearance issues by higher authorities. This is a routine ship visit similar to any other foreign ships wishing to call on our ports," said Zata.
"It's completely routine, nothing unusual about the visit. We had Chinese warships calling on our ports in the past, the same as with any other warships from other countries," he added.
Analee Aguila, port manager of Philippine Ports Authority, said around 200 vessel crew were on board and no Chinese officials and diplomats were present. The passengers are scheduled to visit different tourist spots in Davao City.
“There was a notice of arrival, the purpose is goodwill visit. And why Davao City? There was this People’s Republic of China submitted a request to DFA that they will visit the port of Davao,” she said.
Aguila said the vessel was scheduled to return to China on Thursday morning.
Last June 8, a Chinese Aircraft bound to New Zealand also landed in Davao International Airport for refueling.
The docking of the ship comes amid tensions between Manila and Beijing over China's continuous militarization and alleged bullying of Filipino fishermen in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The last time Chinese ships visited the country was in April last year when guided missile destroyer Chang Chun, guided-missile frigate Jin Zhou, and replenishment ship Chao Hu docked in Davao City for a goodwill visit.
The latest Chinese ship is assigned with the China Launch and Tracking Control which is subordinated to the People's Liberation Army General Armaments Department.
On June 8, a Chinese transport plane Ilyushin II-76, en route to New Zealand, landed at the Davao City airport for refueling.
The same plane again landed in Davao City on June 23, also for refueling, en route to China.
--With a report from Chrislen Bulosan, ABS-CBN News