The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday said it is now verifying reports about the alleged presence of a Chinese research vessel off Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“We are verifying the report of the alleged presence of a Chinese research ship spotted near Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.
Lorenzana said the country’s next course of action will be based on the facts that will be gathered by the maritime patrols in the area.
“Rest assured that the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) through the Northern Luzon Command, undertakes regular domain awareness operations and provides all the necessary support to the Philippine Coast Guard and other agencies to secure and implement our laws in our territorial waters and the EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” the DND chief added.
Reports quoted Ryan Martinson, an assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute-US Naval War College, as saying that a Chinese research vessel was recently spotted off the coast of Zambales.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Martinson said the Chinese ship ‘Hai Da Hao’ is currently operating “65 nm (nautical miles) east of Scarborough Shoal”.
He added that the ship is operated by the China Ocean University. PNA.GOV.PH