MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to raise the issue of the rising number of Chinese ships in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in his upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Drilon made the remark after 2 Chinese survey ships were seen operating within the country's EEZ.
“The presence of Chinese vessels into our territories is alarming. What is more alarming is that nobody knows what these ships are doing in our territory; even the government is clueless. They should not have crossed our EEZ in the first place. China must be made to explain,” Drilon said in a statement.
The senator added that "non-action by the Philippine government could be viewed as acquiescence."
Drilon, meantime, expressed support for Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who questioned the presence of the Chinese vessels in Philippine waters.
“We commend the Secretary of Defense for all his actions to protect our territories and uphold our claim in the West Philippine Sea. We support him and the Filipino people should rally behind him,” he said.
Duterte is scheduled to visit China later this month — the fifth time since he assumed office in 2016 — to discuss maritime issues with Xi.
The President earlier said he will finally raise Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping maritime claims, during his visit.