MALACAÑANG remains mum over the incident that saw Chinese navy ships harassing a Filipino vessel in the West Philippine Sea.
But Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddyboy Locsin said that the government is likely to file another diplomatic protest the moment reports are confirmed.
Chinese vessels have earlier been reported to have chased a Filipino boat carrying fishermen and an ABS-CBN News crew in the West Philippine Sea earlier this week to shoot a video on the continued presence of what has been referred to as Chinese militia vessels stationed at the West Philippine Sea.
“Philippine authorities are looking into reports of Chinese vessels chasing after a television crew aboard a Philippine vessel in the West Philippine Sea. If proven to be true, the DFA will raise the matter with the Chinese government,” reads the statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“In the meantime, the department is thankful that the crew and the Filipino vessel are safe,” it further reads.
The DFA also urged the public to “coordinate with Philippine authorities when planning a visit to the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea” – almost in the same context to the statement that was earlier released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Filipino fishing vessel, with an ABS-CBN News crew on board, was tailed by two Chinese missile craft on April 8 as it traveled across reefs and shoals in the West Philippine Sea, the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the disputed South China Sea, close to the mainland of Palawan.
GPS coordinates indicated that the Filipino vessel was only 90 nautical miles from mainland Palawan, following a straight path home when the missile boats chased it down.
The incident happened as Philippine officials demanded the withdrawal of Chinese ships in Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea, the country’s EEZ in the South China Sea which China claims in near entirety.
Malacañang on Friday refused to comment on Chinese ships armed with destructive missiles that chased a boat carrying a Filipino news team in the West Philippine Sea.
“Defer to the SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) and DND (Department of National Defense),” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a text message, when asked to comment on the incident.