The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday summoned China’s envoy to Manila after a People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLAN) vessel was caught in “illegal incursions” in the Sulu Sea in January and February of this year.

In a statement, the DFA has summoned Ambassador Huang Xilian through Acting Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro after a PLAN Electronic Reconnaissance Ship (Dongdiao-class) with bow number 792 entered Philippine waters “without permission” and reached the Cuyo Group of Islands in Palawan and Apo Island in Mindoro from January 29 to February 1.

During a confrontation, it said Philippine Navy vessel BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) challenged PLAN 792 which alleged that it was “exercising innocent passage.”

“Its movements, however, did not follow a track that can be considered as continuous and expeditious, lingering in the Sulu Sea for three days,” the DFA said.

It added that PLAN 792 continued its intrusion in Philippine waters despite repeated directions by the BRP Antonio Luna to leave Philippine waters immediately.

“As a country that abides by its international commitments, the Philippines recognizes the right of innocent passage in accordance with Article 52 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, the actions of PLAN 792 did not constitute innocent passage and violated Philippine sovereignty,” the DFA said.

In response, Lazaro demanded that China “respect Philippine territory and maritime jurisdiction.”

She also demanded China comply with its obligations under international law, particularly UNCLOS, and direct its vessels to desist from entering Philippine waters “uninvited and without permission.” (PNA)

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