Lorenzana stresses Chinese gov't must respect maritime laws
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said “the Chinese government must respect international maritime laws if it wants to earn the respect of the international community” after another incident in the vicinity of the Scarborough Shoal last month.
A Chinese warship and coast guard vessel harassed a Liberian flagged, crude oil tanker named “Green Aura” at the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal last month, a news report said.
“It has been reported in certain news outlets that a commercial vessel with Filipino crew aboard, the 'Green Aura', was repeatedly challenged by Chinese Coast Guard vessels near Bajo de Masinloc on September 30, 2019,” said Lorenzana in a statement.
“Since the Green Aura, a Liberian ship, was able to safely reach its intended port of destination unimpeded, we believe that what happened should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized,” said Lorenzana.
“We, however, would like to reiterate our call for all countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation and passage in the WPS. Bajo de Masinloc is well within the Philippine EEZ, and the 2016 arbitral ruling declared that it is a common fishing area,” he added.
In a television interview, ship captain Manolo Ebora, a Philippine Navy reservist said the Chinese ships claimed that the area of Scarborough Shoal is under jurisdiction of the Chinese government and ordered the Green Aura to alter its course.
“When we are six miles (away from the shoal) … They keep insisting me to alter the (ship’s) course and move away 10 miles (from Scarborough shoal) but I continued the route. Later on, a Coast Guard vessel crossed on our bow while the Chinese warship (was) continuously calling,'' said Ebora.
''I insist why are you driving us away we are just passing innocently as a commercial vessel? Is it your territory? I also said that it is much closer to the Philippines… But they said and it was recorded on our video that it is the jurisdiction of Chinese government,” he said.
The commercial vessel was on its way to China when Ebora decided to navigate the ship near the shoal to verify a reported presence of Chinese vessels in the area.
The vessel was said to be transiting from Nongyao, Thailand to Longkou, China when the incident happened. Robina Asido/DMS