Chinese survey ship leaves Catanduanes

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    A CHINESE survey ship that took shelter for days in Catanduanes during bad weather left yesterday, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

    The ship, Jia Geng, was monitored to have entered Philippine waters at around 9 p.m last Friday. It left Cabugao Bay in Catanduanes at around 6 a.m. under monitoring by a PCG Islander plane.

    The ship is owned by the Xiamen University, the Coast Guard said.

    The Coast Guard said that right after the Chinese vessel was sighted, it deployed its personnel but the ship’s captain refused to let the PCG personnel board his ship, invoking “health protocols” due to COVID-19.

    “Thus, the PCG asked for documents for verification. The captain provided vessel’s documents and we learned that said vessel is a Marine scientific research vessel of China.

    PCG Catanduanes then detailed 24/7 shorewatch and bay patrol to monitor the activities of said vessel,” a PCG report said.

    The report said the Department of Foreign Affairs informed the PCG the following day that the Chinese Embassy in Manila was “requesting for diplomatic clearance for said vessel to take shelter in Catanduanes due to bad weather and sea condition.”

    A Coast Guard official, who requested anonymity, said the request was approved by the DFA. “There was formal communication from the DFA,” he said.

    “She was closely watched by PCG during her stay in Cabugao Bay, Catanduanes. PCG Islander plane was also dispatched to overfly while said vessel is exiting our water,” the report also said.

    Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, commander of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, confirmed the ship requested clearance from DFA to seek shelter up to February 2 because of bad weather. “They made the request while they were approaching.”

    In September last year, the ship entered Philippine waters in Calayan Island in Cagayan.

    The ship claimed it was merely taking refuge in the area due to bad weather. The ship left three days after, when the weather condition improved.