AFP to China: Probe Pinoy fishers’ harassment

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  The military is hopeful that China will conduct an impartial probe into reports that the Chinese navy drove away Filipino fishermen at Union Banks in the disputed Spratlys chain. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has submitted its investigation report to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

 “It is up to the DFA to act on the matter,” AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman for the AFP, said the Chinese government has vowed to investigate the incident, which was relayed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano to media last week. 

“The Chinese government said they will look into the matter and we’re going to wait for that,” Padilla said. 

 Padilla said the Philippine government is conducting its own investigation of the incident. 

“We have relayed that information to the Department of Foreign Affairs to act on it. If it is determined that indeed it is the Chinese navy and not the coast guard, then appropriate protest through diplomatic channels will have to be given out,” he said. 

Padilla said the government has sent representatives to talk to the fishermen who were allegedly harassed by the Chinese navy. 

Citing statements from witnesses, Alejano said the Chinese navy fired shots to deter Filipino fishermen from going to Union Banks on April 9. 

“According to initial reports, it was the Chinese coast guard that was involved in the Union Banks incident. However, in our meeting with the fishermen, we were told that it was actually a Chinese navy ship,” Alejano said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier ordered the AFP to investigate the incident.

Union Banks is located within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen took place near Gaven Reef, one of seven artificial islands built by China in the Spratlys. – With Jaime Laude

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