Chinese Coast Guard ‘rudely’ took debris found by Phl Navy: DND

The Department of National Defense on Tuesday maintained that the retrieved metal debris floating off Pag-asa Island was “rudely” taken by the Chinese Coast Guard from the Philippine Navy team.

In a statement on Tuesday night, DND officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. said the defense department is still awaiting additional reports from the ground, following the incidents involving the Philippine waters.

“We stand by the accounts of our personnel in the area that, contrary to the narrative of the Chinese side, the debris being towed by a Philippine vessel to Naval Station Emilio Liwanag for inspection was rudely taken by personnel from CCGV5203,” Faustino said.

Authorities, he said, are also investigating the reported explosion near the island hours after the floating debris was retrieved.

“The situation is still developing; thus, we cannot provide additional details at this time. Our Armed Forces, together with relevant government agencies, are working to ensure the safety of our Filipino community in Pag-asa and the surrounding areas,” he added.

The Chinese Embassy-Manila, in a statement late Monday evening, denies the initial report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command that there was a “forceful” action from the Chinese Coast Guard to get the debris, believed to be part of the rocket recently launched by China.

The embassy said, “relevant reports are inconsistent with facts.”

“Here’s what happened according to the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. At around 8:00 am on November 20 a China Coast Guard ship found an unidentified floating object in the waters off the Nansha Islands, which was later identified as the wreckage of the fairing of a rocket recently launched by China,” the statement read.

The Philippine Navy, the Embassy said, returned the debris to the Chinese Coast Guard after conducting a “friendly consultation.”

“The Chinese side expressed gratitude to the Philippine side. There was no so-called blocking of the course of a Philippine Navy boat and forcefully retrieving the object at the scene,” it added.

In response, Faustino emphasized that similar incidents are the reasons why the government continues “to advocate for open lines of communication and dialogue mechanisms.”

“We support the diplomatic efforts of Philippine government agencies to engage our Chinese counterparts to address the incident,” he said.

Faustino said they are reviewing all reports to determine their future actions.

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