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Chinese warships seen 3 times near Tawi-tawi in August, says AFP

Chinese warships sailed through the Sibutu Strait near Tawi-tawi at least three more times in August, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command has said.

Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the AFP Westmincom, described the Chinese vessels as armed and their passage through the strait, not innocent.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs had been informed of the unauthorized incursions by the Chinese.

"Hindi naman sila hostile. Ang ano lang d'un, it was not an innoncent passage. Kasi ang innocent passage, straight line lang yun. Pagka medyo nag-korba ka, that is no longer considered as innocent passage," Sobejana said.

Asked to describe the ships that the military monitored, Sobejana said, "Warship in general terms."

"Reconnaisance. Basta armed 'yun," Sobejana said.

He said there were two incursions by Chinese vessels in Sibutu Strait in July and three in August.

Sobejana said the movement of foreign vessels in the Philippines' territorial waters should be coordinated with local authorities.

"Since these are warships, their entry to our territory should be coordinated. So we informed the national leadership para sa ganun they can engage with their counterparts sa Department of Foreign Affairs o sa mga attaches d'yan sa Manila," Sobejana said.

Does the military recommend the filing of a diplomatic protest against China?

"Sa level na yun ng national. Basta't we provided them the information. At the national level, sila naman yung merong engagement with the Department of Foreign Affairs," Sobejana said. —Anna Felicia Bajo/NB, GMA News