Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is verifying reports after a group of fishermen from Mariveles, Bataan claimed that Chinese Coast Guard has fired shots to drive them away.
“We are still validating that story. We also heard that, but it’s hard to give an official statement without getting first the facts and verifying the alleged incident,” said chief of staff General Eduardo Año on Thursday.
“In coordination with other agencies particulary the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) we will validate it and thereafter take the proper actions,” Año said.
AFP’s Western Command chief Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario is on the case, Año added.
“I already instructed him to check and verify where the incident took place because as per reports we received, one of the fishermen is said to be from La Union. That’s already far from the West Philippine Sea.”
“If it’s in Mariveles, Bataan that’s already near us. We will check; we will validate because what we also heard the incident happened near Union Bank. The area is near Gaven Reef where China has a structure,” he added.
The fisherman from Mariveles said they were pulling near Union Reef when a Chinese Coast Guard speedboat suddenly appeared and chased them away. The speedboat circled their boats, fired warning shots and signaled them to stay away.
The reef is located in the West Philippine Sea, part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.