MANILA- China may have only been testing the Philippines' reaction when one of Beijing's ships pointed a radar gun at a Manila vessel, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.
Describing the incident as "medyo (a bit) offensive," Lorenzana said the Chinese ship may have no intentions of hurting the Filipinos in the Philippine Navy ship.
The incident was the subject of a diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines.
"Parang ano lang ito, sinusubukan lang nila (China) ano ang reaksyon natin and we have already filed our protest," Lorenzana said in a virtual press briefing.
(It's like they're just testing what our reaction will be and we have already filed our protest.)
On Feb. 17, Philippine vessel BRP Conrado Yap was on its way to Rizal Reef Detachment in the West Philippine Sea when it detected "a radar contact of a gray-colored vessel," according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command, tasked to protect the country's sovereignty in the disputed sea.
The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which China claims in near entirety.
The Philippine ship identified the Chinese vessel as a small warship with bow number 514, equipped with a "gun control director" that can "track targets and makes all the main guns ready to fire in under a second."
"Itong latest na radar gun ay hindi naman siguro nila saktan, o harm our [men]," Lorenzana said.
The defense chief also assured the public that the incident had no effect on Chinese donations of medical equipment to the Philippines as the world continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic,
"Hindi naman konektado 'yung pointing ng laser gun dun sa mga nagbibigay ng mga donasyon na galing sa China," Lorenzana said.
(The pointing of a laser gun is not connected to the donations from China.)