AFP looking into Chinese vessels' chasing a boat with ABS-CBN news team
Filipino news team chased by Chinese ships
MANILA – News reporters from ABS-CBN on board a boat was reportedly chased by Chinese ships with destructive missiles while at the West Philippine Sea.
According to the ABS-CBN online news, Chinese ships, “including missile-capable boats” chased a Filipino vessel near Ayungin Shoal, which is within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
The Filipino motorboat with the ABS-CBN news team, was cruising across various reefs and shoals ion the West Philippine Sea to report on the livelihood of Filpino fishermen affected by the presence of foreign vessels in the area.
Press Secretary Harry Roque was reported to have refused to comment on the incident and simply said “Defer to the SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) and DND (Department of National Defense.”
In his Tweet, Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said the action was “intimidation.” In another Tweet, he said “This is very interesting. It happened before,” in reaction to reports the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will look into the incident.
However, the Department of Foreign Affairs has not issued any statement as of 6:50 P.M. Friday.
At the Department of National Defense, Director Arsenio R. Andolong said they are concerned for the safety of anyone, unarmed civilians at sea.
“As such, we view the report with concern. The Defense Department has directed the AFP through its Western Command to investigate, gather, and validate all relevant facts on the incident, the outcome of which will be used to coordinate any appropriate action through the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) and engagement among the DFA, DND, DOTR, and other concerned agencies,” Spokesperson Andolong concluded.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines expressed concern over the alleged harassment by Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy vessels and a Chinese Coast Guard vessel as recounted by a team of journalists on board a watercraft sailing with the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said they are conducting their own investigation and verifications to establish what took place. He said they have already touched base with the news team to provide the Armed Forces of the Philippines raw footage and photographs of the incident to establish the circumstance and document the incident.
“While we understand the journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting, we appeal to them to exercise prudence in the course of their job,” General Arevalo said in his statement.
He added they, at the AFP, are concerned with the safety and well-being of their compatriots with the assurance they have been forthright and transparent in their reporting about the prevailing conditions within the Philippines’ EEZ.
He said they have invited members of the media in their ships and aircraft to do their coverage with ample protection while in the practice of their profession.
“Amidst the situation, the AFP reiterates its commitment to follow the dictates of the Constitution to protect the people and secure our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he concluded.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has not replied to requests for comments from Manila-based media as of this writing. (Melo M. Acuña)