Photo: Open Source

MANILA, Philippines — (Updated 11:32 a.m.) The Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said it would raise with China the issue of its missile boats chasing off a Filipino boat carrying a television crew in the West Philippine Sea once the incident has been verified by Philippine authorities. 

ABS-CBN News’ Chiara Zambrano on Wednesday reported that she and her crew were supposed to visit Ayungin Shoal, where the Philippine Navy maintains its presence through BRP Sierra Madre, but decided to head back to Palawan after the Chinese coast guard radioed in to ask them what they were doing in the area. 

Despite this, Zambrano said China Coast Guard ship 5101 gave chase for an hour and was later replaced by two new-generation stealth missile fast attack crafts of the Chinese navy. 

The Department of National Defense on Friday said it ordered an investigation into the incident which took place about 90 nautical miles from mainland Palawan, well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

DFA in its statement said that if the report is “proven to be true,” it would “raise the matter with the Chinese government.”

Footage of the incident described has already been aired by ABS-CBN but DFA Executive Director for Strategic Communications Ivy Banzon-Abalos said “reasonable verification with expert authorities is necessary.” 

While it is thankful that the Filipino crew and vessel are safe, the DFA in its statement reminded the public “to coordinate with Philippine authorities when planning a visit to the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.”

Similarly, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in a statement posted Friday said: “While we understand the journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting, we appeal to them to exercise prudence in the course of their job.” 

The military also expressed concern over the incident and said it would be conducting its own probe through its Western Command.  (Click here to read more…)