President Rodrigo Roa Duterte receives the uncut 50-outs of 1000-Piso Polymer Banknotes from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and the Chairman of the Monetary Board and Governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Benjamin Diokno during the presentation at the Malacañan Palace on April 6, 2022. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Apr 7 (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte will always protect the territory and maintain the national interest of the Philippines amid reports on a Chinese vessel observing the country’s military exercise.

At the Palace briefing, Andanar said the Department of Foreign Affairs determined that these actions of China violated national sovereignty. The DFA already took diplomatic action, he added.

“The President, while engaging in diplomacy in dealing with China, will always protect our territory and uphold our national interest,” Andanar said.

According to him, the DFA already summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge a diplomatic protest regarding the incident.

He made the statement after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that a Chinese navy vessel was observing the war games between Filipino and American soldiers in Philippine waters earlier this year.

“Ang ginawa nitong barko na ito ay — meron kasi tayong exercise na nangyayari with the US forces, US navy — ay minamanmanan nya (What this vessel did was monitor our military exercise with the US navy),” he said.

Lorenzana added that only innocent passage is authorized in the area where foreign vessels can enter through the Balabac Strait and exit Palawan.

“Medyo sensitive ‘yan na area because itong dinaanan nung barko ng Tsina ay hindi na ito international waters,” he said. “It is an internal water, it is the water between Palawan at saka yung Mindanao.” (MNS)

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