'PH cannot ban marine surveys': Locsin backtracks on ships ban

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2019 05:19 PM

MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday the country may not ban marine surveys under an international sea treaty but that they need the country’s permission to be conducted.

In a tweet, Locsin said: “This then is the new rule: if we grant permission to one legitimate say US concern we will grant to France, China, Japan, any non-haosiao survey.”

The foreign secretary earlier said he has banned marine survey ships even of China, saying granting an exception to one country “will automatically lift ban universally” and will “invite bribes.”

Locsin said he consulted a Singaporean expert from the International Institute for Strategic Studies and learned that “foreign navies enjoy freedom of navigation through our EEZ (exclusive economic zone).” 

He then asked Filipino maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal to “double check this.”

“In consultation with a Singaporean IISS expert, I learned that foreign navies enjoy freedom of navigation through our EEZ. Fine then. @JayBatongbacal please double check this. The IISS was pretty sharp though. Let me know,” Locsin tweeted.

Locsin's tweets came after the sighting of two Chinese ships operating in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).