MANILA - The Philippine government is preparing to file a diplomatic protest against China over the intrusion of one of its research vessels in Philippine waters in northern Luzon in September, a military official said Wednesday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, in a press briefing, said research vessel Jia Geng was monitored 59 nautical miles west of Calayan Island in Cagayan province last Sept. 18.
Burgos said the Philippine military deployed a naval aircraft to "challenge" the Chinese vessel as it is within the country's 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Another Philippine vessel was also sent a day after to check on the Chinese vessel.
"It was still still inside our exclusive economic but it went farther," Burgos said.
"We sent sent aircraft and we challenged that vessel and then it responded favorably, saying 'we are going away'. They headed out and then true enough, on the third day, they're no longer inside our exclusive economic zone," he added.
According to Burgos, who is also the commander of the Area Task Force North of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, the Chinese vessel claimed it was just seeking refuge in the area due to bad weather.
Despite this, Burgos said the government will still be filing a diplomatic protest since the vessel should have asked for permission first if they needed to enter Philippine territory.
He also said they have already submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs a report detailing the Chinese intrusion.
"The monitoring and challenging of that vessel do not end there. We submitted a special report to the task force, chaired by Secretary (Hermogenes) Esperon and then the Department of Foreign affairs will file a diplomatic protest," Burgos said.
"That will be the subject of our diplomatic protest."
In April, the Department of Foreign Affairs filed diplomatic protests against China over 2 developments in the South China Sea that Manila assert as violations of the country's sovereignty and of international law.
Another diplomatic protest was filed in August over the illegal confiscation by the Chinese Coast Guard of Filipino fishermen's fishing gear at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales in May. An international court has declared the shoal as a traditional fishing ground of Filipinos and other nationals.