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US ‘very concerned’ over Pag-asa incident between PH, China forces — Amb. Romualdez

The United States has expressed its concern regarding the confrontation that happened between Filipino and Chinese personnel near Pag-asa Island over the weekend, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said Thursday.

Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, Romualdez was asked about the Philippines’ coordination with the US government after the Philippines’ Naval Station Emilio Liwanag (NSEL) and the Chinese Coast Guard had a confrontation off Pag-asa Island on Sunday when the latter “forcefully” took an unidentified floating object from the Philippine forces.

“Well, siyempre very concerned sila dahil nangyari ‘yan ngayon,” Romualdez said.

(Well, of course they are very concerned because that happened now.)

“Pero ang instructions ni Presidente na i-investigate nang mabuti at ang Navy ay nag-confirm na ginawa nga ito ng mga Chinese vessels,” he added.

(But the President's instructions was to investigate it carefully and the Navy confirmed that it was indeed done by the Chinese vessels.)

Earlier in the day, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines has already sent a note verbale to China following the incident.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. earlier said the note verbale would determine why the version of Chinese authorities of the incident in Pag-asa was different from that of Philippine authorities.

The Chinese Embassy had denied that Chinese Coast Guard personnel forcefully retrieved the object, saying that it was done through “friendly consultation.”

Romualdez reiterated that US Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent visit to the Philippines showed the “very strong” alliance between the Philippines and the United States.

Harris then affirmed her country’s support for the Philippines in the security sector, including the invoking of the mutual defense treaty between the two countries, should attacks be made against Philippine forces in the South China Sea.

“Tayong mga Pilipino, mahahaba ‘yung ating pasensya. Pero darating [ang] araw, sana ‘wag na lang sana dumating doon, na meron tayong boiling point… Hopefully nga itong mga situation na ganito, it will be resolved peacefully,” Romualdez said.

(The Filipinos’ patience is long. But the day will come, I hope it doesn't come to that, when we will have a boiling point... Hopefully situations like this will be resolved peacefully.)

“Hindi naman tayo naghahanap ng gulo. Tayo ang ginugulo,” he continued.

(We are not looking for trouble. They are the ones messing with us.) — RSJ, GMA Integrated News