MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the Philippine Coast Guard has successfully asked Chinese ships to leave the country's territorial waters on several instances.
According to Duterte, the foreign ships leave Philippine waters without trouble when asked by the Coast Guard.
"Why is it that in many occasions, the latest one was 'yung kanina, but previously, we had about two or three incidents which we drove away the Chinese vessel," the president said during his weekly recorded public address.
"Gusto ko lang basahin ang utak ng mga tao na bakit madali silang mapaalis? (Why is it much easier to make them go away?) Are they avoiding any confrontation, or parang good will, or something that we do not know. Madaling mapaalis ngayon (It's much easier to shoo them away.
"I think previously twice in the past, talagang pinaalis sila (we tell them to go away) and they readily agreed to the suggestion of the (Philippine) Coast Guard to move away from the territorial waters."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Chinese ships appear to be avoiding confrontation with Philippine ships.
"Ang suspetsa ko po ay kaya sila umalis dahil napakalapit na nila sa Palawan. And that is already not contested. Sa atin 'yun. Isa 'yun," Lorenzana said.
(My guess is they left because they were really close to Palawan. And that's ours.)
He also said the Philippines uses civilian ships to tell the Chinese vessels to leave.
"Pangalawa, parang ayaw nilang magkaroon ng insidente diyan involving their naval ships kasi naval ships na 'yung ginagamit nila samantalang ang ginagamit natin ay civilian ships na Coast Guard," Lorenzana added.
(Second, it seems like they don't want any incidents that involve their naval ships, because they use naval ships while we use civilian ships of the Coast Guard.)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the coast guard last week drove a Chinese ship away from the West Philippine Sea.
BRP Cabra was returning to its base in El Nido, Palawan, when it spotted the Chinese vessel near the Louisa Reef on July 13 around 4:30 p.m.
A separate statement by the Coast Guard said the vessel monitored by the BRP Cabra in the vicinity of Marie Louise Bank, 147 nautical miles from El Nido, was Chinese Navy Warship 189.
It did not respond to the initial radio challenge by the Philippine vessel, and only started to move away after another verbal challenge was coursed through the Long Range Acoustic Device, the PCG said.
The Cabra tailed the Chinese ship to ensure it left the Philippines' EEZ.