Chinese warship worries Malacañang

June 11, 2019

MALACAÑANG is concerned about the presence of a Chinese warship near the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone that China seized after a two-month standoff with the Philippine Navy in 2012.

“Of course, we are always concerned on any intrusion into our sovereignty,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacañang on Tuesday.

The Philippine Coast Guard has reported that it spotted a Chinese Navy warship in its latest patrol in the Scarborough Shoal.

Aside from the warship, the PCG said two Chinese Coast Guard ships and two militia boats were spotted within 12 nautical miles of the shoal.

Panelo said Malacañang would let Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. issue a response on the recent incident.

“I will let Secretary Locsin make the necessary responses,” he said, adding that Locsin’s statement would be Malacañang’s position.

Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the recent sighting of a Chinese warship and militia boats in Philippine waters should be discussed at the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) meeting between Manila and Beijing.

“That should be discussed, definitely,” he said.

The BCM is a venue where Manila and Beijing discuss specific issues and development in the South China Sea.

China, Panelo said, should “state their position on this.”

Duterte had earlier told China not to touch the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island following the surge of Chinese fishing vessels believed to be maritime militia in the area.