By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA — Chinese warships spotted off Sibutu Strait could be conducting surveillance or survey missions, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Thursday.
Arevalo remarked when asked for his assessment regarding the possible actions the Chinese ships are doing in the waterway.
“As we were saying, we do not know really what they are up to but it could be that they are maybe conducting surveillance or they may be conducting studies or surveys which is something that would need an agreement or a process with which they have to undertake before they could perform such actions,” Arevalo said in a press briefing.
While not operating in a hostile manner, the AFP spokesperson said the Chinese naval vessels immediately left the area and headed towards the direction leading out of the country’s waters once they learned that the military has taken notice of their presence.
“And as we were saying these are not hostile actions or these sailings although not covered with appropriate processes are by itself not hostile so it is we feel that it is sufficient that we were able to monitor them, report their presence, make them feel and understand that we saw them, that we have monitored them and in a manner we have established our sovereignty and authority by flying over them and making our process known,” he added.
Earlier, the Western Mindanao Command reported that five Chinese naval vessels have passed in the Sibutu Strait again, with four recorded in July and the last on August 4. (PNA)