The Philippine Navy apologized to China after one of its patrol gunboats collided with a Chinese boat in the West Philippine Sea, Defense Department spokesman Zosimo Jesus Paredes said.

“We apologized for the collision, dun tayo nag-aapologize, hindi ‘yung sa ginawa nating trabaho na sitahin sila,” Paredes said in a phone interview.

The Navy sent a report of the incident to the China Embassy in Manila, along with the apology, he said.

According to Paredes, the Navy gunboat PS-74 was conducting “sovereign patrols” at Recto Bank on Tuesday morning when it spotted and called the attention of a Chinese fishing vessel that was towing 32 dinghies.

Seeing the Navy ship, the fishing vessel fled and left the dinghies, one of which the gunboat hit, he said.

“Strictly speaking, this is an intrusion because they were in Philippine waters, but because it’s a fishing vessel, we will investigate whether they intentionally or unintentionally entered,” Paredes said.

It was not the first time for Filipino and Chinese ships to encounter each other in Recto Bank, formerly called Reed Bank and is said to be rich in oil deposits.

Last March, a Chinese Navy ship shooed away a Department of Energy research ship that was conducting a seismic study in the area.

The Chinese ship left when OV-10 bomber planes sent by the Armed Forces arrived, after the DOE vessel sent a distress call. (John Roson)

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