DND and DFA, not Malacañang, will comment on WPS boat chase – Roque
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang declined to comment on the West Philippine Sea incident in which a Filipino vessel carrying a television crew was chased by armed Chinese ships.
“Defer to SFA [Secretary of Foreign Affairs] and DND [Department of National Defense],” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said when sought to comment on the matter.
According to ABS-CBN, one of their news teams was aboard a civilian vessel traveling across the West Philippine Sea near Palawan on Thursday when a Chinese ship approached them before reaching Ayungin Shoal.
The Filipino vessel carrying the TV crew decided to return to Palawan, but the armed China Coast Guard ship accelerated its speed and chased them for about an hour.
The incident is among China’s latest aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines has already begun filing daily diplomatic protests over the continuing presence of the Chinese ships at Julian Felipe reef in the West Philippine Sea.
Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte wants the rift resolved through peaceful means, counting on the two nations’ close ties.
The US has warned China about what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly hostile moves, reminding Beijing of Washington’s responsibilities to its partners.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that an armed assault on the Philippines’ armed forces, public boats, or aircraft anywhere in the Pacific, including the South China Sea, will activate America’s obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef),” Price said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
More than 200 Chinese boats were first spotted on March 7 at Whitsun Reef, around 320 kilometers west of Palawan Island in the contested South China Sea, although many have since scattered across the Spratly Islands.
With a report from Agence France-Presse
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