Defense chief welcomes Palace move on foreign vessels in PH waters

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2019 10:15 PM | Updated as of Aug 20 2019 11:16 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday welcomed Malacañang's move to require all foreign vessels passing through its waters to seek clearance from the national government ahead of time.

"That is a very good development because now we have some authority to enforce our laws within our territorial waters,” Lorenzana said Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier warned foreign vessels that it’s either Manila gets a “compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner.”

“To avoid misunderstanding in the future, the President is putting on notice that beginning today, all foreign vessels passing our territorial waters must notify and get clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of the actual passage,” said Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

When asked what “unfriendly” options the Philippine military could use, Lorenzana said “there are so many things" they can do to be "unfriendly."

"Cutting their bow(s on their ships), escorting them. I’m going to defer to the Navy what unfriendly method we can do,” the top defense official said.

Lorenzana said he has not yet spoken to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua since Duterte's 4th State of the Nation Address, despite a public call for Zhao to explain why Chinese warships are entering Philippine territorial waters without consent.

Zhao previously made a commitment to talk to the Chinese Navy about the matter but has not yet given an update.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, any foreign vessel may be allowed to cross a coastal state’s territorial waters without notifying the state if they are conducting innocent passage, or movement in a straight path heading back out to sea.