The Philippines has no information on the reported sailing of United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Hopper (DDG-70) within 12 nautical miles off Scarborough Shoal on evening of January 17.
“Wala naman tayong say sa anumang gagawin ng Amerikano sa South China Sea. They do not inform us beforehand of their activities there,” Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said as quoted by PNA.
He added that the said activity of US Navy warship is not a cause of concern. “For as long as they are on innocent passage. International law allows innocent passage even in territorial waters,” he said.
Scarborough Shoal is well within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone and is an an integral part of the Philippine territory. However, China is also claiming ownership of the said shoal.
This move by US Navy was condemned by China. “We strongly urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake and stop making such provocative moves so as to avoid undermining China-US relations and regional peace and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said.
Sources: http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2012/04/18/philippine-position-on-bajo-de-masinloc-and-the-waters-within-its-vicinity/; http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/t1527341.shtml; http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1022338