Manila ready to assist 'ran aground' Chinese ship-A A +A
Saturday, July 14, 2012
THE Philippine government is ready to extend assistance to a Chinese ship that got stuck at a shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands off West Philippine Sea near Palawan province, Malacanang said on Saturday.
In an interview over state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said if Beijing will seek help, the government is ready to assist Jianghu-class frigate no. 560, which ran aground at the unoccupied Half Moon Shoal or Hasa-hasa shoal.
"If assistance is required then we are duty bound to render. It's like, dispute or no dispute, of course, we will render assistance if needed. Allow me to make that clarification. Because I did see a report from the Chinese Embassy saying that the rescue on their side is underway," she said.
Valte refused to further comment on the matter despite the fact that the ship involved is a military vessel.
"The element of dispute is still there. So we will refrain from any comment because as you know we have committed not to take provocative actions," she said.
She said that the government will continue to monitor the incident.
China's Defense Ministry said a Chinese navy frigate ran aground this week while conducting patrols in a disputed part of the South China Sea near the Philippines.
A brief statement posted on the ministry's website Friday said no injuries were reported and that a recovery operation was being mounted. It said the accident occurred Wednesday as the ship was patrolling near Half Moon Shoal. The area is about 60 nautical miles (111 kilometers) west of the Philippine province of Palawan in an area claimed by Manila.
"We have to hear from them what happened. If it is in distress, we're always ready to provide any assistance," said Philippine Brig. Gen. Elmer Amon, deputy regional commander. He said the shoal is well within Philippine territorial waters.
Vietnam has protested a recent announcement by the China National Offshore Oil Corp. opening nine oil and gas lots for international bidders in areas overlapping with existing Vietnamese exploration blocks. Vietnam says the lots lie entirely within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
The disputed South China Sea waters host about a third of the world's cargo traffic, rich fishing grounds and vast oil and gas reserves.(SDR/AP/Sunnex)