Manila Voices Alarm Over Chinese Warships in Philippine Waters Amid South China Sea Dispute

Earlier, Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo denied allegations that Manila has abandoned the UN arbitral tribunal’s decision that rejected Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Manila has voiced alarm over a military report that at least five Chinese warships have been spotted passing through a strait in the southern Philippines in separate incidents since July.

“We express concern with that kind of incident because they [China]) keep on saying that we’re friends. I don’t think that this is an act of friendship,” said Salvador Panelo, spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Panelo called the incident a violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea given that the Chinese warships “passed through our exclusive economic zone.”

“I’m sure the Department of Foreign Affairs secretary [Teodoro Locsin Jr.] will do something about that”, Panelo said, pledging to “call their [China’s] attention” and discuss the matter during his meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Manila scheduled for “one of these days.”

Earlier, Panelo emphasised that the Philippines had “never shelved” the UN arbitral tribunal’s decision that rejected Beijing’s  nine-dash line territorial claims in the South China Sea. He described the decision as “irreversible,” but noted that at the moment, the ruling can’t be enforced.

“It only remains unenforceable because no foreign force seems persuaded to help us enforce it,…

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