Philippines-China sea dispute Photograph:( Reuters )
Philippine navy chief believes the ships have been maintaining a speed of about three knots, which means they are conducting surveys without permission
Philippine navy chief has called for a diplomatic protests against the two Chinese research ships that have been present in the disputed area of the South China Sea for the last few days.
Vice-Admiral Giovanni Bacordo spotted the research ships in the Reed Bank area of the sea about a week back. He believes the ships have been maintaining a speed of “about three knots”, through which his unit has concluded that the ships are conducting surveys without permission.
“We have checked if they have clearance to be there. We found out there is none.”
Bacordo has confirmed that his unit has already reported the incident “We have reported this [to the Armed Forces Chief and the Department of National Defence] already … and request the filing of a diplomatic protest,” he told the local media.
The area that the ships have been spotted in is an energy rich area which Philippines claims falls under its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and has been proved right by Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.
However, China has time and again declined the claim and has stood against the claim by disputing the economic rights to the area.
The statement by Bacordo was issued a day after the Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr claimed “as far as I know we’ve stopped all marine surveys by foreign ships because, while they follow the rule that (any survey) must contain Filipino scientific crew...(our crews are treated) like mushrooms: fed on (muck) and kept in the dark.”
In addition to this, Bacordo has also accused the Chinese ships of forcing the Philippines navy to take the forst aggressive step, which his unit has successfully avoided till now.
“The way I analyse it, in our dispute in that area, the first one to fire the shot becomes the loser. So they will do everything for us to take aggressive action. But we have to be patient with that,” he said.
“I’m sure they want us to take the first shot but we will not. Any navy who fires the first shot in that area will lose international support. That includes all the navies patrolling in that area.
“We have to exercise maximum tolerance. There are some activities … that once you do it, you can no longer take it back, and that is firing the first shot.”
There has been no statement by the Chinese side yet.