The arrest of Chinese poachers in the Half Moon Shoal was not undertaken to aggravate the sea dispute between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Malacañang assured on Friday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a Palace media briefing, reiterated the statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) explaining the reason for the arrest.
“We reiterate that the apprehension made by the PNP (Philippine National Police) Maritime Group at Hasa-Hasa or Half Moon Shoal was undertaken to enforce Philippine maritime laws and to uphold the country’s sovereign rights over our exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” Coloma said.
The PCOO chief further said that the government continues to stand by its commitment to a peaceful and rules-based approach to the resolution of disputes in the WPS.
It can be recalled that earlier this week, the PNP Maritime Group seized a Chinese fishing boat carrying large numbers of endangered species, particularly 500 turtles.
The maritime police, aside from capturing the boat, also arrested about 10 personnel and its captain, Chen Hi Quan.
While the Philippines has always stood by approaching the sea dispute through peaceful and rules-based means, China on the other hand, is firm on its nine-dash line.
The nine-dash line is a U-shaped chain of a dotted line that outlines China’s territorial claims in the WPS which has become a regular attachment to the Chinese map.
China has also resorted to aggressive actions, previously expelling Filipino fishermen from the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal). PNA