President Rodrigo Duterte is accompanied by Chinese President Xi Jinping inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing prior to their bilateral meeting on April 25, 2019.
Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez
Palace: No impasse on Pag-asa Island situation
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - April 30, 2019 - 3:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang denied that there is an impasse in the situation on Pag-asa Island as the Chinese have not yet pulled out their fishing vessels in the area.

The Philippine government had protested the presence of hundreds of Chinese fishing ships near Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea but Beijing has yet to issue a response on the protest.

Asked if there is no progress on the Pag-asa Island situation, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it is not the case.

Panelo cited the previous remarks of Ambassador to China Chito Sto. Romana that Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua relayed to him that the vessels were not part of China's maritime militia.

"Medyo may pagbabago ng complexion kasi wala naman palang arm. Kumbaga it's a question of fish d'yan, sa amin 'yan (There is a slight change in complexion because the boats are not armed. It's a question of the fish in there, that's ours)," Panelo said in a press briefing.

The Malacañang spokesman stressed that the Chinese vessels are still in violation of Philippine sovereignty for loitering near Pag-asa Island, which is part of the country's exclusive economic zone.

Panelo said the Philippine government would have to wait for the official response of China to the former's diplomatic protests. He expressed confidence that the Chinese side would respond.

"If they don't move away, that is precisely the work of bilateral mechanism on bilateral negotiations. We can talk how to deal with it," Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Duterte raised the 2016 arbitral ruling on the maritime dispute during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last week.

Xi responded to Duterte by saying that China does not recognize the ruling of the United Nations-backed court that invalidated Beijing's nine-dash line over the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

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