PH readying diplomatic protest over Chinese vessel intrusion

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    GOVERNMENT is preparing a diplomatic protest against China after one of its research vessels intruded into Philippine waters in northern Luzon in September, a military commander said yesterday.

    Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, chief of the military’s Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), said the research vessel, named Jia Geng, was monitored 59 nautical miles west of Calayan Island on September 18.

    Burgos said the military deployed a naval aircraft to “challenge” the research vessel as it was inside the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

    The following day, Burgos said, NOLCOM sent a new a naval aircraft to check on the whereabouts of the Chinese the following day. “It was still still inside our exclusive economic zone but it went farther,” said Burgos.

    “We sent an aircraft and we challenged that vessel and then it responded favorably, saying ‘we are going away.’ They headed out and then true enough, on the third day, they’re no longer inside our exclusive economic zone,” he said.

    He added: “The monitoring and challenging of that vessel do not end there. We submitted a special report to the task force, chaired by Secretary (Hermogenes) Esperon and then the Department of Foreign affairs will file a diplomatic protest.”

    “That will be the subject of our diplomatic protest,” he said.

    Burgos, who is also commander of the Area Task Force North of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, said the Chinese vessel claimed it was just seeking refuge in the area due to bad weather.

    Asked why the government will be lodging a diplomatic protest against China when the vessel was merely seeking refuge, Burgos said: “They should have requested permission, that’s the (protocol) if they want go inside our territory. There was no coordination.”

    Burgos said the military has submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs a report detailing the intrusion of the Chinese vessel. A special report was also submitted to the task force, chaired by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, he said.

    Meanwhile, the military conducted amphibious landing and island defense exercises in San Antonio, Zambales yesterday morning, part of a 12-day training exercise dubbed AFP Joint Exercise “DAGIT-PA” or Dagat, Langit, Lupa that kicked off last November 23.

    “This is part of the inter-operabilty exercises being conducted… We were able to gain more knowledge and further enhanced our proficiency in sea to land operations through these joint exercises,” said Burgos.

    Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, commander of the AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command and the concurrent AFP spokesman, said there is no indication another country will attack the Philippines but said the military still needs to prepare for such scenario.