Sunday, June 17, 2012

China plan to pull out its ships from Scarborough Shoal - Palace said

MalacaƱang Palace, the residence of the Philip...MalacaƱang Palace, the residence of the Philippine president, from the other side of the Pasig River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)The Palace is waiting for China to make good its promise to pull out its ships from Panatag shoal, which would end the three-month-long standoff there.

Abigail Valte, President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, reminded the public on Sunday that Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China had expressed its intention to pull out fishing boats from the shoal after the Philippines took the lead Friday night because of bad weather.

“If you listened to the statement of Secretary Del Rosario, he already said there is an arrangement to that effect and that is what we are waiting for,” Valte told government radio dzRB.

Foreign department officials said that negotiations were under way for the removal of the Chinese vessels from the shoal.

Valte also made it clear that the government decision to withdraw a patrol vessel of the Philippine Coast Guard and a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources survey ship from the shoal Friday night was out of consideration for the safety of the personnel in these vessels.

At that time, typhoon Butchoy had descended on the area, prompting President Benigno Aquino III to order the vessels to get out of the shoal that had been the subject of a more than three-month-long standoff between Manila and Beijing.

Valte said there was no Chinese request for the Philippines to pull out its vessels.

“It was to make sure the lives of the PCG and BFAR personnel would not be endangered,” she said of the pullout.

Asked whether Manila would deploy its vessels again should China refuse to comply with its commitment, she said she could not answer the question but said this would be factored in the re-evaluation to be done by the government of the situation.

“Once weather improves, there will be a reevaluation on what the deployment would be,” Valte said, echoing what Del Rosario had already said the previous day.

Aside from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the re-evaluation will be made by the Office of the President, Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Coast Guard.

Asked why the need for a reevaluation when the reason for pulling out was due to the bad weather then, Valte said there was a need to look into “what sort of presence they need in the area.”

She noted that Panatag Shoal was not only part of the country’s coastline that needed to be watched.

Source: Inquirer

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