The Chinese envoy to Manila has vowed a probe into the alleged act of intimidation by a Chinese Coast Guard ship against Philippine vessels that conducted a resupply mission to troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday night.
Lorenzana’s remarks came after reports said the Chinese Coast Guard deployed personnel on board a rubber boat who took pictures and videos of Manila’s resupply mission earlier on Tuesday.
“That he (Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian) did not know about it and that he would make (an) inquiry,” he said in a message when asked about Huang’s response when told that the Philippines considers such actions as a form of intimidation and harassment.
Lorenzana earlier said Huang assured him that the resupply efforts would not be impeded.
Asked if the incident warrants a diplomatic protest, he said it is not necessary at the moment.
“Personally, I believe not at the moment. But I have forwarded my messages to (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin. He might. I think telling the ambassador we consider these (actions) as intimidation and harassment are sufficient at the moment. He communicates with his principals in Beijing regularly and am sure he relays our concern,” he added.
Lorenzana earlier said the two resupply boats have safely arrived at the BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
The two resupply boats left Oyster Bay on Monday after repairs on one of the boats were completed.
The Western Command earlier reported that three Chinese Coast Guard vessels “blocked and water-cannoned” two Philippine supply boats or “bancas” on November 16.
No one was hurt but the Philippine vessels, which were identified as the Unaizah May 1 and Unaizah May 3, had to abort their mission after one of them had its outrigger damaged by the water cannon.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday night, Lorenzana also condemned China’s use of water cannons against the Filipino vessels.
“For days, I have been quietly resolving an issue involving our detachment at the Ayungin Shoal. One of the most significant challenges of being a Defense Secretary is staying calm in the face of crisis. The recent use of water cannons against our two resupply boats in the Ayungin shoal is an affront to the Filipino people,” he said.
“I have told the Chinese Ambassador that no one can prevent us from doing what we have to lawfully do within the West Philippine Sea, an area where we have sovereign rights by international laws,” he added.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it fully trusts the Department of Justice (DOJ) and would fully cooperate in the agency’s probe into the alleged violations committed by police officers in pursuing the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
In a statement Tuesday night, PNP spokesperson Col. Roderick Alba said they respect the call of various organizations for the resumption of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into the country’s anti-narcotics campaign.
“Let us remember that it was the decision of the ICC to suspend the probe granting the deferral request of the Philippine government. It might have halted at the ICC, but the investigation continues here through the DOJ. The PNP gives its full trust to the DOJ’s handling of the drug cases. The justice department is expected to come up with their findings and recommendation as an offshoot of their probe,” Alba said.
At least 52 cases involving 154 police officers will be prioritized by the joint team of the PNP and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). These cases were already reviewed by the DOJ and were recommended for further investigation and case build-up.
The criminal cases that may be recommended by the team are separate from the administrative cases that would be pursued by the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service.
On Saturday, Malacañang welcomed the decision of the ICC to suspend its investigation into alleged human rights violations committed under the national anti-drug campaign but reiterated the Hague-based court “has no jurisdiction” over the Philippine government.
Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles, however, said it does not preclude the government from communicating with the ICC.
Nograles welcomed the “judiciousness of the new ICC prosecutor, who has deemed it fit to give the matter a fresh look.”
The Philippine government has previously asked the ICC to defer its investigation on the alleged abuses and crimes in the course of the administration’s drug war.
The letter, dated November 10, was sent to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan by Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya.