MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said the Philippines would be investigating why the Chinese navy vessel that ran aground in Half Moon Shoal (Hasa Hasa Shoal) off Palawan was in the area but said that it would not file a diplomatic protest at this time.
“Walang [planong] magsampa ng diplomatic protest ngayon. Secretary del Rosario believes that it is not proper at this time or he is not inclined to file a diplomatic protest at this time,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
“We will be looking into it… We will be investigating how the frigate got stranded in Hasa Hasa Shoal. That’s something that we will be looking into, in accordance to what Secretary del Rosario mentioned.”
The Chinese Embassy in Manila said that the vessel, which was on “routine patrol mission” has been “refloated successfully” and is returning to port.
“According to the Information Department of the Ministry of National Defense of China, around 5AM of July 15, the grounded frigate near Nansha’s Half Moon Shoal was refloated successfully, with minor damage in the stem part. All the personnel aboard are safe. Now the preparation for return to the port is underway. No contamination has been caused in the incident area,” said Zhang Hua, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy.
Meantime, Lacierda said the government is still studying its options in light of reports that a big fleet of Chinese fishing vessels has arrived in the disputed Spratly islands.
“May fishing ban pa po ngayon. We are still going to study our options there. Pansamantala, wala pa ho tayong ginagawang kilos po doon,” Lacierda said.
PH disappointed no joint communique issued by ASEAN
The Palace expressed disappointment that the ASEAN did not issue a joint communiqué at the end of the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in Cambodia despite a reported agreement of the foreign ministers over the elements of a binding code of conduct that would govern activities in the South China Sea.
“Certainly, we would like to see Cambodia abide by the consensus. Because there was a consensus. If you talk to the other foreign ministers, there was a consensus to at least mention what was discussed. We would like to see a joint communiqué that reflects the consensus and that’s not what we saw,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ricky Carandang said.
“Certainly, we in the Philippines, and the Secretary (del Rosario) has said this: We in the Philippines are disappointed that we failed to reach a joint communiqué. A joint communiqué has been standard for ASEAN for the last 45 years. There was a consensus in that ministerial meeting among most of the countries. Yes, we’re disappointed that there was no joint communiqué,” he added.
Lacierda said a joint statement would have served the interests of the ASEAN.
“We are supposed to be in support of one another. And we believe always that situations like these should be approached multilaterally. That’s the reason why our country brought it up in the ASEAN because we wanted a multilateral solution in any concerns within the West Philippine Sea,” Lacierda said.