The Department of National Defense on Friday expressed concern over a television report showing Chinese warships chasing a Filipino civilian vessel in the West Philippine Sea, and ordered an investigation into it.
“We view the report with concern,” DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said, noting that this was especially because the incident involved unarmed civilians at sea.
According to a report aired Thursday, a crew of ABS-CBN network went with Filipino fishermen to check on their condition amid the continued presence of Chinese ships and fortifications in the West Philippine Sea.
The fishermen and television crew, who were on a motor launch, was first challenged by a China Coast Guard vessel on the way to Ayungin Shoal.
The shoal is inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and even hosts an old ship being used as an outpost by soldiers.
The Filipino vessel turned back but was chased by two Houbei-class Type 22 missile boats for an hour, at a part of the sea only 90 nautical miles from mainland Palawan, according to a later report from the network.
Andolong said the DND directed the Armed Forces, through its Western Command, to investigate, gather, and validate facts of the incident.
The outcome will be used to coordinate any appropriate action through the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea and engagement among the DND, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Transportation, and other concerned agencies, he said.
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