Panelo on ‘Aura’ incident: Not a PH vessel? ‘Not a concern’
NONTHABURI, Thailand — The latest incident at the Scarborough Shoal involving a “Chinese naval ship” and a Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned oil tanker with an all-Filipino crew is “not a concern,” Malacañang said Sunday.
“Anyway, this is not a concern, this is not a Philippine vessel,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said when sought for comment on the incident in a press briefing here.
“Well as long as they do not touch the Philippine ship or vessel, it will be the concern of that country that carries the flag of that particular vessel,” he added.
The Palace official also said the incident would not affect the ongoing negotiations regarding the Code of Conduct (COC) over the South China Sea.
Nonetheless, Panelo agreed with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who earlier urged China to respect the international maritime laws.
“I agree, I agree. I think China should agree. Because China itself says that we should respect international law,” Panelo said.
Lorenzana earlier said the incident “should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized” given that the Liberian-flagged ship Green Aura was able to safely reach its intended destination.
But Lorenzana called on countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation since Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, where the incident happened is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was verifying reports of the incident.
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