Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles today questioned the true mission of the Chinese spy ship that ventured into Philippine domestic waters as he warned that this could be a test of the country’s border security amid the escalating tension between China and Taiwan.
Nograles said the latest incursion of China should be a cause of alarm for Philippine security officials as he noted that while previous territorial breaches were on the country’s exclusive economic zone, this was the first publicly disclosed incident of a Chinese military ship detected in our domestic waters.
Reacting to the report that a Chinese reconnaissance ship was detected within the vicinity of Sulu sea near eastern Palawan and was demanded to leave by the Philippine Navy, Nograles said that this incident was a serious act of provocation because it happened at a time when the Philippines is having a joint military exercise with the United States dubbed Marine Exercise 2022 (MAREX 22).
He insisted that the intrusion was deliberate and calculated to measure the government’s reaction to these kinds of incursions. This could even be a deliberate move to test the country’s border protection capabilities amid the increasing tension between China and Taiwan.
According to Nograles, this latest publicly disclosed Chinese trespassing is more alarming than the previously reported cases as it is already within the country’s domestic waters and not just on our exclusive economic zone.
“The whole Philippines should understand that the latest intrusion of China is completely different from the previous ones. The latest intrusion is now within our domestic waters and no longer on our exclusive economic zone so this should really cause some alarm. This is no longer just an issue about our territorial claims under UNCLOS but this is already a deliberate and outright act of trespassing which is a violation of our Constitution and our domestic laws,” Nograles said.
Nograles also dismissed assertions of the right to innocent passage by the Chinese government because they deliberately ignored repeated demands by the Philippine Navy through BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) for them to leave the country’s territory.
“ They ignored our challenges through BRP Antonio Luna. China should not ignore the Philippines when they are breaking our laws. My question to China is, what is your true intention? Why do you want to provoke us? While we cannot fight the mighty Chinese military, we need the people to be vigilant as we exercise our right to resist these acts of provocation through diplomatic means. We need also need the world to know that we, as a nation, reject the actions of China through its military,” Nograles added.
Nograles said this report of a Chinese spy ship entering the Philippine territorial waters is even more alarming, especially in wake of the unprovoked invasion of Russia in Ukraine. He said that there are also reports of an increasing act of provocation in nearby Taiwan which is being claimed by China as its province.
“ We should continue asserting our rights and we should not allow China to trample our sovereignty just because they have one of the world’s mightiest armies. It is a slap in the face of every Filipino and we should not tolerate it at all,” he added.
According to Nograles, it is very important that the Philippines has full documentation of these incidents as there might be a need to elevate this issue during the 77th UN General Assembly in September.
“ I ask the Navy, Coast Guard, and PNP Maritime Group to fully disclose to the Congress the number of Chinese incursions into Philippine territorial waters and what type of incursions were made so that we can also craft policies and propose actions on how to deal with these issues,” Nograles said.
“ We should keep an eye on these maritime breaches because these could be preparations of a bigger plan. Our Navy and our Coast Guard should actively monitor these incursions to protect our sovereign interest,” Nograles said.