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AFP recognizes ABS-CBN reporter for West Philippine Sea coverage
In this April 14, 2021 photo, ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano receives a plaque of recognition from Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, recognizing their efforts in covering the latest developments in the West Philippine Sea.
Twitter/Chiara Zambrano

AFP recognizes ABS-CBN reporter for West Philippine Sea coverage

(Philstar.com) - April 15, 2021 - 8:06am

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines recognized the efforts of an ABS-CBN journalist in covering the developments in the West Philippine Sea.

ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano on Wednesday posted a photo of her and AFP chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, along with a plaque of recognition from the military.

"In her faithful commitment to the tenets of responsible journalism, she has raised public awareness and patriotism on the recent sovereign incursions by Chinese Coast Guard and People's Liberation Army Navy inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines," the plaque read.

Just last week, Zambrano reported how her television crew, aboard a civilian Filipino boat, were chased by Chinese coast guard and navy vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

The ABS-CBN News team was sailing in the West Philippine Sea to check the area following reports on the continuous presence of Chinese vessels, believed to part of Beijing's maritime militia.

On their way to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, The Filipino civilian boat encountered a China Coast Guard ship which radioed them, asking for their identity and purpose. Not understanding English, the captain of the Filipino boat opted to return to mainland Palawan.

The China Coast Guard ship chased them and was later on replaced by two Type 022 Houbei fast attack crafts of the People's Liberation Army Navy.

According to Zambrano's report, the chase went on for about an hour while they were heading to the mainland.

'Exercise prudence' 

The AFP initially called on members of the media to "exercise prudence" in covering the West Philippine Sea after the incident with the ABS-CBN News team.

"While we understand the journalists' insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting, we appeal to them to exercise prudence in the course of their job," AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement released April 9.

While the military expressed concern over the report of the chasing incident in the West Philippine Sea, Arevalo said they have been "fortright and transparent" in reporting about the situation in the country's EEZ.

"We have accommodated members of the media in our ships and aircraft to do their coverage so they can be protected while in the practice of their profession," Arevalo said.

In response to this, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called out the military for appearing to blame journalists for being harassed by the Chinese within Philippine EEZ.

"It is almost like the military is asking the Filipino journalists 'what were you doing there?' even when the better question might be aimed at the AFP: What were you not doing there?" the NUJP said in a statement. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

ABS-CBN ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CHIARA ZAMBRANO SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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