Navforsol: Chinese ship docks due to bad weather

By Cet Dematera


THE Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol) command strongly belied reports that the Chinese vessel Jiang Geng that took shelter in Catanduanes island on Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 was engaged in research activities.


Navforsol Commander Jose Ma. Ambrosio Ezpeleta said that Navy vessels and patrol ships of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) made a round-the-clock watch of the Chinese ship while it was docked off the coast of Bato, Catanduanes.


“We did not allow passenger of the foreign vessel to disembark. In fact, no one showed up outside the ship while it was inside our territorial waters,” Ezpeleta told Bicol Mail.


Ezpeleta said that the ship’s crew admitted to them that it had no official permission from the Philippine government to enter the country’s territory.


“But they just requested us to allow them to dock to take shelter because of the bad weather condition that time,” Ezpeleta said.


He explained that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), any vessel that is in distress is allowed to enter a foreign territory.


“We invoked UNCLOS in allowing the ship to dock off Catanduanes island,” Ezpeleta added.


He said that the Chinese crew admitted that they failed to get go-signal to enter Philippine territory from their Chinese Embassy through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).


“We understand that because of their situation, the ship failed to immediately secure a permit. Also, for humanitarian reason, we allowed them to take shelter inside our territory,” the Navy official said.


He said that PCG patrol ships had escorted on Monday, Feb. 4 the foreign vessel out of the Philippine waters.


Ezpeleta said the ship was negotiating the north-east direction when it left.


“We learned that Jiang Geng was already at the vicinity of Cagayan this time,” Ezpeleta added.


Catanduanes island and islets are the nearest land mass to the Philippine Rise.