Philippines: Palace concerned over China ships in Panatag

  • Malacañang, on 12 Jun 19, expressed concern over the presence of Chinese naval vessels near Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which is off Zambales and well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
  • Earlier in the week, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel reported seeing a Chinese warship, coast guard vessels and militia boats around Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
  • Three Filipino fishing boats were also seen near the traditional fishing ground, according to PCG spokesman Capt.Armand Balilo.
  • Officials said no incidents of harassment of Filipino fishermen were reported in the last few days near the shoal, which is 124 nautical miles from the coast of Zambales.
  • Sought for comment on the PCG report, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said: “We are always concerned on any intrusion to our sovereignty.” Panelo, however, said he is leaving it to the Department of Foreign Affairs to issue a statement on the incident.
  • Panelo said the presence of Chinese warships around Panatag should “definitely” be discussed through the bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) between China and the Philippines. The BCM serves as forum for the two countries to discuss the South China Sea row peacefully.
  • Asked if he thought the deployment of Chinese warships to Panatag was a form of betrayal considering Beijing’s repeated vow to promote regional peace and stability, Panelo said: “Let’s see. We do not know exactly their reason, they have to state their position on this.”
  • Despite the establishment of a bilateral mechanism, reports on China’s aggressive acts in the West Philippine Sea continue, the latest of which was its harvesting of giant clams at Panatag.

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