Chinese warships passed through Sibutu Strait four times: Secretary Lorenzana

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at the Blessing and Turnover Ceremony of new Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) assets that Chinese warships passed through Sibutu Strait four times since February.

“Lately, there was report that the aircraft carrier of China, dumaan daw doon sa Sibutu Strait and I asked our troops there, ‘yung commander ng Marine brigade, to confirm that several weeks ago the Liaoning really passed through,” Secretary Lorenzana said in his speech during the ceremony. “Ang sabi nila wala.”

“But there were four instances when there were Chinese ships that passed through different times starting February,” he added.

He said for two times two warships passed and another two instances when one warship passed. “For as long as they are not doing wrong or anything illegal, then they can pass through because it is allowed,” he added.

“They should inform us kapag dumadaan sila but they did not,” Secretary Lorenzana told reporters at the said event.

He added that he talked with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua regarding the passing of Chinese warships at President Rodrigo Duterte’s SONA 2019.

“I asked him very frankly if indeed the [Chinese aircraft carrier] Liaoning passed through Sibutu [Strait], he said no,” Secretary Lorenzana said.

“He knows about several ships [that passed] after it happened. And so he said that in the future he will require those ships to inform the Chinese embassy in Manila about intended passage in Sibutu, and they will inform us,” Lorenzana said.

“Kung mga warships ‘yan inform us only, inform us of their passing, but for commercial shipping no need to ask permission because allowed naman ‘yung innocent passage,” he explained.