Palace: China wants closure of Recto Bank incident
MANILA, Philippines—China wants to put an end on the issue surrounding the Recto Bank incident saying it has been affecting its diplomatic relations with the Philippines, Malacañang said Tuesday.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo claimed that Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua has expressed their government’s desire to resolve the issue.
“We have to put closure to this because our relations are being affected,” Panelo told reporters, quoting Zhao as supposedly saying in a text message.
Panelo also claimed that reports of the ramming and sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea had been blown up by the administration’s detractors and have been used against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Sa akin ‘yun ang impression ko na mini-milk lang ng kalaban ni Presidente. Ginagatasan lang, ginagamit (against him). Kaya we have to put closure to this. Pinapalaki na hindi naman dapat pang-palakihin,” he said.
On June 9, 22 Filipino fishermen were left adrift in the open sea for hours after their boat was hit by a Chinese vessel while anchored in Recto Bank. A Vietnamese ship later rescued them.
Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, which guarantees the country’s exclusive rights to the natural resources in the area.
The incident has been in the headlines in recent weeks.
Duterte has downplayed the incident as a ‘little maritime accident,” prompting backlash from his critics for supposedly kowtowing to China’s aggression in the disputed areas.
However, Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, claimed that the issue hardly affects the President’s popularity.
“Tignan mo ‘yung popularidad niya sa next survey, hindi naman naapektuhan,” he said.
The two governments are currently conducting separate investigations into the incident after China earlier rejected Duterte’s suggestion for a third party investigating panel. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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