Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is hoping that President Rodrigo Duterte will take up with Chinese President Xi Jinping the repeated incursions of Chinese warships in the Sibutu Strait near Tawi-tawi.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has monitored armed Chinese vessels at the strait, three more in August after a diplomatic protest was filed after two incursions in July.
"Sana ma-mention ito para matapos na... Irritant na kasi ito ngayon, eh," Lorenzana said.
Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana earlier this week bared that Chinese warships passed through the Sibutu Strait at least three more times in August.
He said there were two incursions by Chinese vessels in July.
Earlier, Lorenzana mentioned that Chinese warships had passed through the Sibutu Strait, a strip of water between the Sibutu Island and the rest of Tawi-Tawi province, four times since February of this year.
He added that these warships sailed through the Philippine waters with inactive Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).
For Lorenzana and Sobejana, these were no longer innocent passages, noting that China did not ask permission from Philippine authorities about the passage.
According to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, the Chief Executive will have a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this month wherein he is expected to discuss the Philippines’ landmark victory against China's claim in the West Philippine Sea.
Lorenzana said he will be part of the delegation of the visit to China. —NB, GMA News