MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang echoed a statement made by the Department of Defense that the pullout of Filipino vessels from Scarborough shoal will not affect the country's territorial claim.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the government is still doing a re-evaluation on whether the vessels would be re-deployed, following the pullout due to the entry of typhoon Butchoy.
He asserted that the shoal lies within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
"It is within our exclusive economic zone," Lacierda told reporters.
"The vessels are there primarily to ensure our sovereign rights to the exclusive economic zone and this is in consonance with the UNCLOS," he added.
Meantime, Lacierda hoped that China will also do "the necessary things to protect their citizens from the ravages of the storm" but said that the Philippines will be ready to help the Chinese if their vessels and citizens are put in harm's way during the storm.
"We hope that the will also protect their fishermen and also their personnel and do the necessary things to protect their citizens from the ravages of the storm," he said.
"Helping crosses boundaries. Kung nagka-problema sila, tutulungan at tutulungan ang kanilang mga mangingisda."
He said there are continuing talks with China to come up with a peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute.
In a statement, the China Rescue and Salvage of the Ministry of Transport said: “Due to the inclement weather and strong tide in the Huangyan Island waters, in order to help Chinese fishermen and fishing boats pull out safely for shelter, Nanhaijiu-115 vessel has set out to the area to provide necessary assistance.”