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PHL filing protest over Scarborough ‘harassment’ complicates jobs of Filipino seafarers, says Panelo

PHL filing protest over Scarborough ‘harassment’ complicates jobs of Filipino seafarers, says Panelo
Samuel P. Medenilla - November 4, 2019

MALACAÑANG on Monday said its filing of a new diplomatic protest against China for its alleged harassment of a foreign ship in Philippine waters will threaten the employment of thousands of Filipino seafarers abroad.

“We will be putting at risk the employment of more than 400,000 deployed Filipino seafarers and mariners, by sending a message to shipping companies of our country’s inclination to meddle with or interfere into their own maritime affairs for the sole reason that a Filipino is under their employ,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo reiterated his previous position that the Sept. 30 incident involving the ship “Green Aura,” which is Liberian-flagged and Greek-owned, is not a Philippine matter.

It just happened, he noted, that the captain of the vessel was a Filipino.

“We cannot deprive the country being represented by the oil tanker of its right and duty to protect its own ship,” Panelo said.

“To do otherwise, will be effectively divesting such country of its right and competence to take up the cudgels for its ship. Such a demeanor will be a disrespect to it and even insulting to the capability of that country to assert its right,” he explained.

Panelo issued the statement after local maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal criticized the administration’s inaction over the incident.

Batongbacal argued the government’s silence over the matter will effectively legitimize China’s claim over the disputed territory.

Panelo dismissed Batongbacal’s assertions for “ignoring the dynamics of the issues on the ground.”

He further said the administration continues to oppose China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea.

“We are currently in that process and it is moving forward and well. Such a process does not comprise a Filipino seaman engaging in a word war with an agent of China,” Panelo said.