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Navy lays down policy on passing of ships

THE Philippine Navy has set its protocol for foreign ships passing through Philippine waters without permission from Manila, saying prior coordination would be a sign of courtesy.

Members of the Philippine Navy stand against BRP Andres Bonifacio at Pier 13 in Manila on May 22, 2019. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

Acting on the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, flag officer in command, said on Wednesday one way of dealing with foreign ships failing to inform local authorities would be shadowing them.

According to Empedrad, once the monitoring stations of the Philippine Navy detects an intrusion, an available ship will be directed to “shadow” or accompany the foreign ship until it exits the country’s territorial waters.

“We [will] continuously challenge the ship, if that ship won’t be responsive or will even turn on its AIS (automatic identification system), then probably we can [also] send an aircraft that will also shadow and take picture of the ship [sailing through],” Empedrad told reporters in an interview.

Should the foreign ship refuse to answer the challenge made by the Navy, “our ship can cross his bow,” he said.

He clarified that this only serves to tell foreign ships that they cannot invoke innocent passage since there was no prior communication with Manila and keeping the AIS on is a courtesy.

The Navy chief said they were still “finalizing” the rules of engagements should there be non-compliance.

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