MANILA, May 5 (Mabuhay) â€“ Philippine authorities will continue to document the alleged destruction of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal by the activities of Chinese fishermen, but will not do anything to escalate the tension there, MalacaÃ±ang said Saturday.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Coast Guard will patrol the area to protect Filipino fishermen who will venture there.
â€œAng commitment natin hindi mag-escalate ang tension, it will not be to anyoneâ€™s benefit kung gagawa tayo ng bagay na mag-escalate ang tension sa Panatag Shoal,â€ Valte said on government-run dzRB radio.
She said the Department of Foreign Affairs will continue to head the Philippinesâ€™ diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation.
The row started early April when Philippine military forces spotted Chinese fishermen taking marine species from the shoal, which China also claims and refers to as Huangyan Island.
Before a Philippine Navy crew could make arrests, Chinese vessels blocked its path.
For now, Valte said, the Coast Guard will continue to patrol the area, and document incidents such as the alleged destruction of the shoal by Chinese fishermen.
Earlier, the Coast Guard said there is evidence Chinese fishing vessels are involved in illegal fishing and may be destroying the shoal with their activities.
Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan said photos and videos they obtained indicated illegal fishing and trawling, which had discolored the seabed. (MNS)