MANILA, Aug 30 (Mabuhay) — All foreign research vessels that enter the country’s maritime domain without the authorization or permit of the Philippine government are always protested, National Security Adviser (NSA), Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

“We continue to monitor marine scientific research vessels that (go) into our maritime domain without the permit of the Philippines there, immediately protested by the Department of  Foreign Affairs. Any unnecessary swarming of vessels around our stations, especially Pagasa is protested. The turning off of the automatic identity system (AIS) for vessels is also protested and many other things,” he said during the virtual press conference on  Fisheries Management in the West Philippine Sea.

Esperon, who is also chair of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, added that they immediately act diplomatically if they see that the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights are being violated.

“We see to it that as long as we can and within the international rules dictated or given to us or brought by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, or the arbitral award or our claim in the KIG (Kalayaan Island Group) by Presidential Decree and our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) rules, then if we see that our sovereignty and sovereign rights are violated then we indeed launch a diplomatic protest some other forms of actions or some actions are taken of course to protect our national interest in the area,” he added.

Esperon cited as an example the incident last June when flares were fired against a patrolling Philippine aircraft.

“I recall an incident last June, this June 2021 when flares, not gunshots or any other caliber, that was fired at an Armed Forces aircraft which was patrolling the Union Banks – that’s where Whitsun Reef is. China has two detachments and Vietnam has three detachments there in that Union Bank. And so, true to what we have agreed upon, there was a diplomatic protest,” he said.

The country, he said, has consistently filed protests against any foreigner who would violate Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights.

“By the way, we continuously protest against what we find there to be in violation of our sovereignty, our sovereign rights whether you are a Chinese or any other nationality,” Esperon said. (MNS)

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