The Philippines on Tuesday warned it would enforce in
an "unfriendly manner" a diplomatic protocol that foreign vessels
passing through the country's territorial waters must give prior
notice or gain clearance from the government.
The warning came after a series of sightings by the Philippine military of Chinese warships in the country's territorial waters. The vessels did not respond to inquiries from military officers and had given no prior notice to the government of their passage.
"To avoid misunderstanding in the future, the president is putting on notice that beginning today, all foreign vessels passing our territorial waters must notify and get clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of actual passage," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"Either we get compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner," he added. There was no immediate comment from the Chinese embassy in Manila. At least five Chinese warships have been spotted passing through a strait in the southern Philippines in separate incidents since July, according to Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, a regional military commander.
Sobejana said the Philippine military tried to contact the warships when they were spotted in Sibutu Passage, but the Chinese did not respond. China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory and has built artificial islands with military-capable facilities in the area. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the sea.
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