THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, April 9, 2021, expressed concern over the report that Chinese vessels chased a Filipino civilian vessel carrying an ABS-CBN team in the West Philippines Sea (WPS), which is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
At the same time, the AFP appealed to the media to “exercise prudence in the course of their job.”
AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said the Western Command is investigating and verifying the report.
“We have made representations with the news reporter to provide us raw footage or photographs they have of the incident to help us establish the circumstances and document the incident,” he said in a statement.
The news team was in the area to make a report on the situation of the fishermen who have been forced to find other fishing grounds since Chinese vessels remained moored near the Julian Felipe Reef.
ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano said that as they approached Ayungin Shoal, where a Philippine military detachment is situated, a Chinese vessel sent a radio message in English asking them to identify themselves.
The Filipino boat captain steered away from Ayungin Shoal instead of responding to the message. But as they made their way back to the mainland, Zambrano said two Chinese missile attack craft pursued them for about 30 minutes before pulling out.
While the AFP “understands the journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting,” Arevalo appealed that the media exercise prudence in the course of their job.
“The AFP is concerned with the safety and well-being of our kababayans that we have been forthright and transparent in our reporting about the situation in our EEZ,” said Arevalo.
“We have accommodated members of the media in our ships and aircraft to do their coverage so they can be protected while in the practice of their profession,” he added. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)