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PH vessel leaves amid China protest

The DFA, however, says this doesn't mean the Philippines is backing down in the Scarborough Shoal dispute

PH VESSEL. The Philippine archeological vessel which China protested has left Scarborough Shoal.

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine archeological vessel in Scarborough Shoal has left amid China’s protest against its presence in the disputed territory, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday, April 19.

DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, however, was categorical when asked if this means a backing down on the part of the Philippines in the ongoing standoff with China.

“No, we are not backing down. That area is ours,” Hernandez told Rappler in a phone interview.

The vessel left, he said, due to practical and not diplomatic concerns.

“The decision to leave the area was because they want to refuel and reprovision, and they have already finished the first part of their archeological survey,” Hernandez explained.

China to PH: ‘Leave’

The Philippine archeological vessel left 2 days after China issued a statement urging the Philippines to withdraw all its vessels from Scarborough Shoal. Zhang Hua, spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in the Philippines, said this will “restore peace and stability there.” 

Earlier Thursday, China’s state-run media said the Chinese government has rejected the Philippines’ call to bring the Scarborough dispute to an international court. The DFA had said international law is the “great equalizer” in the issue.

The Philippines filed another diplomatic protest against China on Monday, April 16, regarding China’s deployment of ships and aircraft to harass a Philippine boat in Scarborough Shoal.

The Philippines’ standoff with China has been ongoing for over a week now. – Rappler.com