Although not necessarily agreeing to the act, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said there is "nothing new" with a Chinese naval warship telling a Filipino-manned Greek-owned vessel to veer away from the Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
In an interview with reporters, Cayetano, a former foreign affairs secretary, said it is a "protocol" for all countries asserting claim over a body of water to tell a foreign vessel to leave the claimed territory they are encroaching on.
"So if you're just asserting, that's okay, pero kung hinaharang mo na yung ship or impeded mo na yung freedom of navigation, ibang usapan yun," he said.
"I'm not saying it's right, it's not right for China to do it, I'm saying that's the facts on the ground, it's nothing new," he continued. "But we are in Philippine waters, we have to respond. We have to respond by saying, I'm sorry, you are wrong, this is Philippine waters."
Last September 30, a Greek-owned oil tanker Green Aura manned by Filipino crewmen was "harassed" by a "Chinese naval warship" near Panatag shoal on its way to China.
According to Ebora, they were already near the shoal when they received a radio call from what claimed to be a "Chinese naval warship."
The Chinese ship then ordered Green Aura to stay 10 nautical miles away from the shoal, to which the captain resisted, pointing out that they had the right to pass through the area since the shoal is Filipino territory, not Chinese.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the "harassment" incident does not concern the Philippines because the ship was not a Philippine vessel.
Cayetano, however, pointed out that anything that involves Filipinos should be the concern of the Philippine government, but it could be that Panelo was talking about filing a protest in relation to the incident.
"Usually kasi yung mga protest is done if the ship is flying with your flag, but definitely may danger diyan. Hindi ba kapag yung Amerikano nakidnap sa Africa, kahit sabihin mo yung eroplano is African airlines, may pakialam ang US government. Ganun din tayo basta Filipino," he said.
"Yung pagkaintindi ko sa context ni Secretary Panelo is that we will protest if it is a Philippine registered ship, if not, it's up to the nationality of that ship to make the progress. But definitely, hindi pwedeng may harm sa Filipino crew," he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has already said it would look into the matter. —LDF, GMA News