see update here

Six Chinese ships have been spotted near the grounded warship at Hasa-Hasa Shoal (international name: Half Moon Shoal) off Palawan Saturday, prompting Philippine authorities to ask China to explain the vessels’ presence.

A military aircraft spotted the six ships near the grounded People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigate No. 560 when it conducted a reconnaissance flight over Hasa-Hasa before noon, Peter Paul Galvez, defense department spokesman, said.

Galvez declined to say what color the ships have, saying it was up to the Chinese to explain. Militaries usually color their ships gray while civilian law enforcement ships are colored white.

The six, whose sizes were not confirmed by the reconnaissance plane, are “definitely” Chinese, Galvez said.

“We are seeking clarification from the Chinese side [what is] the purpose of those ships. Hindi tayo ang magsasabi na nagre-rescue sila… hayaan natin na manggaling sa kanila ‘yung salitang ‘yun,” he said.

Frigate still stuck

In an earlier phone interview, Galvez said the PLA Navy ship No. 560 remained stuck at Hasa-Hasa after reportedly running aground Thursday night.

“(The ship ran) aground, it’s stuck,,” he said, adding the military vessel was the same ship that the Chinese Embassy in Manila had earlier told the government of.

Galvez, however, said the DND has yet to receive reports on how the ship happened to be in Hasa-Hasa, which lies just 65 nautical miles west of the island-municipality of Balabac, on the southwestern tip of Palawan.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ordered the Armed Forces’ Western Command to send ships to Hasa-Hasa and conduct an investigation to determine why the Chinese vessel was there.

Commodore Rustom Pena, commander of the Naval Forces West, said their naval assets will provide the marooned Chinese assistance, if needed. (John Roson)

see update here

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