MANILA, Philippines – The 3rd Chinese ship in the disputed Scarborough Shoal has left, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said Friday, April 13.
Hernandez said he received this information from the Chinese Embassy.
“Sa ngayon po ay nag-uusap sina (Foreign) Sec Del Rosario at (Chinese) Ambassador Ma tungkol dito para makahanap tayo ng mapayapang solusyon sa nangyayari doon sa Scarborough Shoal,” Hernandez said in an interview on radio dzMM.
(Currently, Sec Albert del Rosario and Ambassador Ma Keqing are in the middle of talks so we can find a peaceful solution to the Scarborough Shoal incident.)
To ease tension?
On Thursday, April 12, the Philippines pulled its biggest warship out of a standoff with Chinese vessels. China, however, sent a 3rd ship to the disputed waters, reports then said. (Read more about the ship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, through this link.)
In a phone interview with Rappler, Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said the Philippines pulled out BRP Gregorio del Pilar for fueling and reprovisioning.
A senior military officer who refused to be named, however, said it is possible that the ship’s need for fuel became a convenient escape for negotiators to ease the tension. The pullout, after all, had to be cleared with civilian higher ups, he said.
Remaining tight-lipped about negotiations, Del Rosario has described these talks as a “work in progress.”
The disputed area is really just a rocky sandbar, Rappler earlier reported, but its political and economic significance is huge. A strategic area to stage military operations, Scarborough Shoal also fuels optimism about its potential oil resources. – Rappler.com