MANILA (UPDATED)— President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to express his "serious concern" on the increasing harassment against Pinoy fishermen and Coast Guard personnel, Malacañang said.
"The President summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian this afternoon to express his serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of actions by China against the Philippine Coast Guard and our Filipino fishermen in their bancas, the latest of which was the deployment of a military grade laser against our Coast Guard vessels," Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy said the meeting between Marcos and Huang aimed to further "strengthen dialogue" and communication between the two countries.
"They exchanged views on how to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, strengthen dialogue, communication, properly manage maritime differences between China [and the Philippines]," the statement read.
This comes after the Chinese coast guard allegedly used a military-grade laser on Feb. 6 against the Philippine Coast Guard, leaving the Filipino crew temporarily blinded, the PCG recently said.
Earlier in the day, the Department of Foreign Affairs filed a diplomatic protest regarding the incident, condemning the action of the Chinese vessel.
The PCG has said this is not the first time that Chinese vessels used a military-grade laser against them.
The first instance was in June last year, said Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG's Adviser of the Commandant for Maritime Security.
The laser use this month is the latest episode in a series of maritime incidents between the Philippines and China, which claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea.
Beijing has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
The incident also occurred days after the United States and the Philippines agreed to resume joint patrols in the sea and struck a deal to give US troops access to another 4 military bases in the Southeast Asian country.
Early last month, the Chinese coast guard reportedly drove away a Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea and continued to shadow them until they left the area.
After his return from China, Marcos said they agreed that Beijing would not stop Filipinos from fishing in the country's waters, clarifying former NSA Clarita Carlos' statement that Beijing wants to partner with the local fisherfolk.
The President had said the maritime dispute is something that keeps him up at night.
— with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News