Military makes adjustments amid China warships passage in PHL waters

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it is making adjustments following the series of uncoordinated passages of Chinese warships in the country’s territorial waters.

“Actually, may mga ginagawa tayo ano, hindi lang natin pwedeng bangitin lahat ng ating mga hakbangin (We are doing something. We cannot divulge all of our moves) but at the same time, we, of course, strengthen our relations with our allies, to protect of course ‘yung tinatawag nating (what we call) freedom of navigation, to protect those yung masiguro na lahat ng (to ensure all) concerned countries ay ano, magbigay,freely na nakakapunta sa mga lugar na ito at nagagawa ang maluwag na pagdaloy ng ating kalakal (will be able to freely travel to these areas and secure the smooth transport of our goods),” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said.

Reports said there had been a series of unauthorized passages of Chinese naval vessels in Sibutu Strait and other territorial waters of the country.

Aside from naval assets, Madrigal said the newly-activated Coast Watch Systems, including other surveillance units, along with the help of intelligence and information-gathering capabilities of the Philippines’ allies, are being used in this initiative.

Madrigal said these incidents are a national security concern aside from causing unnecessary confrontations.

Halimbawa magkaroon ng (For example, in case there are) unnecessary confrontations, mas maganda kung napag-uusapan yung mgacoordinations (it’s much better if coordinations are being talked about) like these eh nagpapaalam para masiguro natin na hindi naman naba-violate ang ating (they should inform us so we can ensure that there is no violation of our) territory,” he added.

Earlier, the Western Mindanao Command reported that five Chinese naval vessels passed through Sibutu Strait — four recorded in July and the last on August 4.

Meanwhile, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he is recommending the filing of a diplomatic protest following the series of unauthorized passages of Chinese warships in Philippine waters.

“Oo, automatic yun (Yes, that’s automatic),” he added.

Lorenzana said the Philippines has yet to receive any advance warning or information from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) regarding the entry of its ships.

“We did not receive any advance warning, advance notice that there are warships passing through Sibutu Strait,” he added, despite an earlier pledge from the Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua that the country will be informed in advance of any movement of Chinese naval craft in Philippine waters. PNA