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P’pine bans all foreign survey ships
Published on: Wednesday, August 14, 2019

MANILA: As reports of alleged presence of Chinese survey ships in Philippine waters sparked security concerns among the public and the military, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he will ”universalise” the ban on such vessels to include those operated by the Chinese.

“I banned marine survey ships, amending restriction to France & Japan by adding China. To pick & choose invites suspicion of favouritism. Will universalise the ban. Period. Granting exception to one country will automatically lift ban universally,” Locsin tweeted. 

His tweet was in reaction to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s statement that he sees nothing wrong with seeking US help in monitoring the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Earlier, two Chinese survey ships were recently detected operating within the Philippines’ EEZ.

Ryan Martinson, an assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the US Naval War College, reported the presence of survey ships Zhanjian and Dong Fang Hong 3 in Philippine waters last week.

Locsin also tweeted that no other country except China is interested in a joint oil exploration with the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.

“Actually no other country is interested. That is the only legally acceptable reason,” Locsin said, again in reaction to Panelo’s pronouncement.

The spokesman and chief legal counsel had said a joint exploration with China would enable the country to benefit from potentially huge oil and mineral resources in the West Philippine Sea.

“I asked the US undersecretary of energy. Small pickings, she said of PH prospects. Otherwise we can’t pick and choose other than the best offer even if American,” Locsin said, without naming the US official.

China was offering a 60-40 sharing agreement in favor of the Philippines.

President Duterte is expected to discuss a possible joint exploration deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping in his fifth visit to China this month. The President said he was open to 60-40 sharing in favour of the Philippines.

Duterte and Xi signed a memorandum of understanding on joint exploration last November.

The Philippines’ top diplomat warned that any attempt to work or reword China’s terms of reference on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea is at the expense of basic Philippine interests.

Locsin said he accepted China’s Terms of Reference on the MOU which he described as “superior” and rejected the “suspiciously” crafted Philippine version.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified that the alleged Chinese vessel that docked at a resort in Subic Bay on Sunday was a privately owned seacraft.

“Upon verification by our law enforcement agencies: the coast guard and the PNP maritime unit, it was found out that the vessel is actually a yacht owned by a businessman based in Subic,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Lorenzana added that further inquiry showed that the vessel used to be the Japanese research and survey ship Tankai Maru.

“It has been bought and converted into a motor yacht. It caters to tourists that are already in Subic,” he explained.

Lorenzana said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority administrator Amy Eisma has confirmed that the yacht is registered in Subic as Balena II.

“She also said that she and the PCG and PNP maritime units will coordinate for better monitoring of these cruise ships/recreational marine vessels,” he added.

The controversy over the supposed sighting of a Chinese vessel in Subic began with a social media post on the alleged arrival of a boatload of Chinese nationals near the Ocean Adventure Park. 



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