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No objections! Palace: US can exercise freedom of navigation in South China Sea

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Malacañang doesn’t see anything wrong with the United States’ exercise of its freedom of navigation in the Spratlys Group of Islands in the South China Sea.

“We don’t find it objectionable,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said at a press briefing Friday (August 11) in response to the sailing of the USS John S. McCain near the Mischief Reef.

Abella said even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana does not find any problem with the “presumed innocent passage” of the American destroyer on Thursday (August 10).

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said anyone can exercise freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as long as it is in accordance with international laws.

“So, we just need to monitor. And as long as it is within the bounds set forth by international law, then it is all right,” he said.

“Anyone can do it. So any navy, any merchant ship can ply these routes. They can pass and claim innocent passage,” Padilla added.

China has slammed the US over the US destroyer’s passage since it claims indisputab;e sovereignty over Spratlys, which it calls Nansha Islands.

“The Chinese military is firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the US, which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air,” the Chinese Defense Ministry said.