DND expected to look into increased presence of Chinese vessels in WPS — Palace

Published January 14, 2019, 3:35 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Genalyn Kabiling

The Department of National Defense (DND) is expected to look into the reported increased presence of Chinese fishing vessels within the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

“I’m sure the Department of National Defense is doing that already,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during Palace press briefing.

“I’m sure that whoever is authorized to oversee that area ay alam nila ang gagawin nila if they feel na may security threat [they know what to do if they feel there is a security threat],” he added.

But for now, the Palace found nothing worrisome about Chinese vessels in Subi and Mischief reefs as long as they are only engaged in fishing.

“Kung fisherman lang naman, pareho rin tayo nagpupunta tayo doon sa what they claim to be theirs, pinababayaan tayong mag-fish. Walang problem kung fishing fishing lang [If they’re just fishermen, it’s the same situation as ours. We go there which they claim to be theirs. We’re left alone to fish. There’s no problem if it only involves fishing],” Panelo said.

He said allegations that fishing vessels loitering in Philippine waters were manned by Chinese soldiers were still “speculation.”

“We don’t know that yet. That’s speculation,” he said.

“Kung sino ang nagbabantay don, alam nila kung may threat [Whoever is guarding the area, they know if there’s a threat] and they will do and respond accordingly,” he insisted.

An official from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative recently reported that satellite imagery showed the huge number of Chinese fishing boats operating in Subi and Mischief reefs located within Philippine territory. Only a few Chinese vessels allegedly showed signs of actual fishing in the area last year, according to the report.