Green Aura captain Manolo Ebora receives awards from the local government of Batangas City.
News5/Marianne Enriquez
Batangas City commends Filipino captain who stood up to Chinese ship
(Philstar.com) - November 5, 2019 - 7:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Batangas City on Tuesday commended the captain of an oil tanker who defied a Chinese vessel claiming to be a “naval warship.”

Manolo Ebora, captain of Greek-owned, Liberia-registered oil tanker Green Aura, received a commendation from Batangas City Vice Mayor Emilio Francisco Berberabe Jr. for his “exemplary display of bravery and courage.”

“[His bravery and courage] highlighted his belief in standing and fighting for what is right and just in line with his performance of duty as a captain of his assigned vessel,” the award read.

The city’s Office of the Sangguniang Panlungsod also praised Ebora for his “patriotism, vigorous support to our country and for being an outstanding citizen of Batangas City.”

Ebora said a Chinese vessel that identified itself as a “naval warship” ordered the oil tanker several times to stay 10 nautical miles away from Scarborough Shoal, according to a Rappler report published last week. 

The Green Aura refused to change its course and came within about six nautical miles from the shoal, which the Chinese ship claimed as Chinese territory. It then moved toward the Filipino-manned tanker in an attempt to block its passage.

In a radio call with the Chinese ship, Ebora insisted on innocent passage.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the reported harassment by a Chinese ship of the oil tanker does not concern the country “because it’s not a Philippine vessel.”

"For as long as they do not touch the Philippine ship or vessel, it will be the concern of that country that carries the flag of that particular vessel," Panelo said over the weekend.

But Jay Batongbacal, a maritime law expert, slammed Panelo’s remarks, saying: “Even if it is Greek vessel, it should be our concern, because (the Philippines) relies on foreign-flagged vessels for international trade.”

Panelo on Monday insisted that the Philippines' process of asserting its sovereign rights "does not comprise a Filipino seaman engaging in a word war with an agent of China."

 — Gaea Katreena Cabico with a report from News5/Marianne Enriquez

SCARBOROUGH SHOUL WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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