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Manila says vessels ‘intentionally’ hit the boats

MANILA (AFP) – Manila said that Chinese vessels intentionally hit Philippine boats at the weekend.

The two collisions happened during a Philippine resupply mission to troops stationed on a navy vessel that was grounded on the shoal in 1999 to assert Manila’s territorial claims.

Philippine officials accused a Chinese coastguard ship and a militia vessel of dangerous maneuvering that resulted in collisions with a Philippine resupply boat and a Philippine Coast Guard vessel.

“Chinese coast guard and maritime militia vessels, in blatant violation of international law, harassed and intentionally hit Unaiza May 2 and Philippine Coast Guard vessel BRP Cabra,” Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said.

“We are here to really decry in the strongest possible terms this egregious violation and illegal act within the (Philippines’) 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and the obfuscation of the truth by China’s distorting the story to fit its own ends.”

The collision between a Chinese Coast Guard ship and Philippines’ resupply boat near the Second Thomas Shoal. PHOTO: AFP

His comments came hours after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos met with security officials and ordered the coastguard to investigate the incident, which was being taken seriously at the highest level of government, his communications team said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning yesterday accused the Philippines of continuing to spread false information and hype things up.

The Philippine Foreign Ministry summoned China’s ambassador to Manila and lodged a diplomatic protest over the incident.

Spokeswoman Teresita Daza said the ambassador was unavailable and was represented by his deputy chief of mission.

“Ayungin Shoal is part of our exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and we have sovereign rights and jurisdiction over it,” Daza said, using the Philippine name for the shoal.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry and embassy in Manila also issued stern representations to the Philippines over its infringements at Ren’ai Reef, Mao said, using China’s name for Second Thomas Shoal. China has said a slight collision happened after the Philippine resupply boat ignored multiple warnings and deliberately passed through law enforcement in an unprofessional and dangerous manner.