MANILA - Malacanang said on Thursday it is not treating Americans, whose Navy ship ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, with kid gloves compared to Chinese fishers whose boat met the same fate recently.
"First of all, those are two separate incidents. They're not apples to apples," Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters.
"One is a military ship from an allied country [which] is here with our permission, involved in our mutual defense. The other is a private fishing vessel, which was here without permission, which was here for commercial reasons."
"Clearly, the different natures of these vessels would necessitate different responses," he added.
Carandang said that an investigation is ongoing into the grounding of the USS Guardian, which was removed from the reef after three months.
The Chinese fishers, meanwhile, will face charges for poaching, among others.